CENTRAL BANKS TO START HOLDING CRYPTO ON THEIR BALANCE SHEETS

The Bank of International Settlements, BIS, recently released a report titled “ Prudential Treatment of Crypto Asset Exposure.” According to this report, the BIS, which essentially is the Central Bank for all Central banks, released guidelines and operating procedures on how Central Banks can own crypto assets on their portfolios. This comes as a surprise considering the BIS and Central Banks around the world have been increasingly vocal in their opposition towards decentralized cryptocurrencies and stablecoins. This article summarizes this report and lists some of the key highlights the report.

Details of the Report

The guidelines listed in the report are to be implemented by the 1st of January 2025. The report contains standards that will be used by Central Banks across the world to purchase crypto assets and include them on their balance sheets. It was drafted in close consultation with central bank Governors across the world. The aim of this report is two-fold: Firstly, to provide guidelines through which Central banks across the world can hold crypto assets. Secondly, the report aims to preserve financial stability across the globe.

Crypto Asset categories

According to the standard issued, crypto assets will be grouped into two categories: Group 1 and Group 2. Group 1 (a) crypto assets will include tokenized security assets such as stocks and bonds.Group 1 (b) will include centralized stablecoins. Group 2 (a) crypto assets include all decentralized cryptocurrencies as such ETH and BTC. For crypto to be considered as Group 2 (a) crypto, then it has to have a market cap of over $10 billion and a daily trading volume of over $ 50 MILLION. Group2 (b) crypto lumps together all other alt-coins

Before a central bank opts to purchase any crypto assets, there are additional requirements that should be met. Additionally, a rigorous risk test will be carried out to know whether to place a crypto asset in Group 1 or Group 2. Also, if an asset is placed as a group 2 asset, then there is a maximum exposure limit- the maximum amount that can be invested. This exposure limit is currently set at not more than 2% of the bank’s total capital.

Role of BIS in Crypto regulation.

The roles that BIS will play in implementing these new guidelines will be as follows:

· Monitoring the implementation of the standards stated in the report

· Make additional changes and improvements to the report

· Monitor central banks across the world as they implement these new standards.

Central banks will also be required to report to the BIS the crypto assets they are holding and consult with the BIS before classifying a crypto asset as either Group 1 or Group 2. Though not explicitly stated, this essentially means that the BIS will have a sole mandate on giving the go-ahead on whether a central bank can make purchases and how to grade the various crypto assets.

Conclusion

Industry insiders agree that this move may prove to be bullish for crypto assets and especially BTC as central banks have the capacity to provide immense liquidity to the crypto market. However, we also run the risk of centralizing some of these crypto assets as central banks have ‘limitless’ capital to buy large amounts of any particular asset and wield control over it. A good example of how Central banks may wield control over crypto is through the use of synthetic stable coins- basically, stablecoins that have been issued using the native currency of a given country. It is interesting to note that this report mentions nothing about CBDCs. It is assumed that the BIS know that some central banks may lack the technical capacity to implement CBDCs within their jurisdictions. Synthetic stablecoins seem to be a viable option at this stage. Having a huge stake in these stablecoins essentially means that Central banks can have a say in their performance.

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Blockchain, AI, and BNPL: Key Drivers of Fintech in 2023

Fintech is still disrupting the financial industry. While there is still a lot of work to be done to streamline and mainstream this sector, there has been significant progress and growth in recent years. More companies and venture capital investments are aligning themselves with fintech, and major tech brands like Apple and Google have launched products in this space. As we move into 2023, here are three top trends that we believe will shape fintech:

Increased use of blockchain solutions: A recent survey by the Stellar Development Foundation and Wirex showed that there is an increased use of cryptocurrency solutions as a way of sending money across borders. The survey covered the US, the UK, Mexico, and Singapore, and found that in developed and emerging markets, cryptocurrency was increasingly used for remittances. More than half of the surveyed individuals felt that they paid too much to legacy remittance providers, while 37% said they did not know how much they paid in fees. Over 80% of surveyed consumers said they were aware of crypto payments, while 45% said they had already used it for remittance. In addition to cryptocurrency payment solutions, blockchain technology has a wide range of use cases in the fintech industry, such as decentralized finance (DeFi). Despite market downturns, the DeFi market cap currently stands at slightly over $38 billion, and more fintech companies are betting on the long-term growth of this industry. A good example is Creditum.io, a fintech company focused on providing fast and frictionless payment solutions, which recently acquired a license to operate as a fully-functional financial company and intends to launch products within the wider Defi ecosystem across Europe.

Artificial intelligence (AI): AI will be a key driver of fintech growth in 2023. Data shows that by 2026, the global market size for AI in fintech will reach over $26 billion, with a continuous annual growth rate of over 23% from 2021 to 2026. Fintech companies will use AI and machine learning (ML) for intelligent decision-making, powering chatbots, providing customer support, and fraud detection. This will make the customer onboarding process easier and increase efficiency within these fintech companies.

Increase in buy-now-pay-later (BNPL) solutions: The BNPL industry is thriving, with estimates showing that it will reach over $500 billion by 2026, up from around $120 billion in 2021. BNPL made up about 2% of global ecommerce in 2021, meaning that for every $100 spent, $2 was from BNPL. The significant growth in this sector can be attributed to the increasing number of merchants accepting these products, as well as partnerships between big ecommerce brands and BNPL companies.

Conclusion: This list is not exhaustive, but it offers a glimpse into some of the areas that fintech players should keep an eye on as we move into the new year. The fintech space is constantly evolving and brands need to create game-changing products within this space, as there is plenty of room for expansion.

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Not Left Behind: The Fashion Industry Grand Entry into the Metaverse

From buying prime pieces of land, developing them and selling them for profit, playing games and earning income, to trading with digital cash and making money from the NFT market, endless possibilities abound in the Metaverse. Doubtlessly, the Metaverse will change multiple aspects of our lives, although it might take time to fully actualize the project.

The fashion industry hasn’t been left behind. In March this year, Tommy Hilfiger, Roberto Cavalli, and Etro hosted the world’s first runaway show on Decentraland. The four-day event also included virtual panel discussions, besides allowing fashion enthusiasts to shop around.

Notable Fashion Brands in the Metaverse

Like tech and gaming brands, there has been a surge in the number of fashion brands entering the Metaverse. Among them is Gucci, a leading luxury brand. The company teamed up with Roblox, a leader in the igaming space, to exhibit items like sunglasses, hats, and handbags in the form of avatars.

The 2-week exhibition was hosted on ‘Gucci Garden’, Gucci’s space on the Metaverse, enabling fashion and NFT enthusiasts to grab the brand’s virtual collectibles.

Founded in 1919, Balenciaga is known for revolutionizing the fashion space, particularly the women’s fashion industry. From high-end handbags to the popular Balenciaga crocs, the firm has frequently created a stir, drawing criticism and praise in equal measure.

The fashion house’s recent partnership with Fortnite, an online game, revealed its interest in Metaverse. The agreement will see Balenciaga-labeled items used as avatars across the game.

Also, Balenciaga promised to refashion three Fortnite avatars, which will see them clad in the Balenciaga creations. Meanwhile, the game allows for trading Balenciagas digital assets across the platform.

Pomp and circumstance marked Lois Vuitton’s 200th birthday. The unique event included the company kick-starting its metaverse journey and launching LOUIS THE GAME, a mobile game embedded with 30 NFTs.

The artwork, estimated at USD 69.3 million, was created in conjunction with Beeple (Michael Joseph Winkelmann), an esteemed NFT artist. However, the collage is solely for gaming purposes and, therefore, not available for trading in the NFT market.

Seizing the Moment

While critics cite different reasons for not buying into the Metaverse idea, the innovation is a voice to reckon with. After all, figures don’t lie. For instance, D&G NFT is said to have accrued $6 million. Similarly, Gucci, Nike, and Adidas, Nike have collectively amassed $137.5 million in the NFT market. It means that the entry of fashion into Metaverse is something whales as well as retail investors, have their eyes on. Rightfully so, this is an unstoppable wave.

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Hail, NFTs! 3 Ways NFTs are Changing the World

NFTs are not just jpegs uploaded and minted on the Blockchain. Industry players are finding new ways to harness this technology and create game changing products that are shaping the way we interact. True, the recent crypto market slump may have dampened the spirits of the general market. However, industry leaders opine this is part of the market cycle and soon we will be out of the woods. This article is a primer on NFTs, their use cases and where the world is headed with regard to this technology.

As an art form.

This is the most notable way through which NFTs have gained prominence.

This technology has democratized art, enabling previously unknown artists to be at the vanguard of artistic development- enabling designers, artists and graphic experts across the world to earn passive income. Some digital artworks have turned artists into instant millionaires and much-vaunted celebrities in the art world . There are exclusive clubs created around some of these artworks, attracting celebrities and sports stars.  NFTs have enabled artists to earn royalties even in perpetuity every time their artworks are resold. In some instances, sovereign countries are adopting them and finding ways to use them to boost economic output. Countries,

such as Japan, recently adopted  NFTs as gifts for the civil service.

Government employees who perform well are gifted with NFTs; they use them for commemoration.

In Supply chain

NFTs have found notable use cases in supply chain management .

Manufacturers can use them to create unique tags for their products  for provenance.

Consumers can easily scan these NFTs and help them get detailed understanding of the products they consume. Businesses can use NFTs to enhance transparency and boost efficiency as they can track products on real time . With one scan all supplier information can be brought to the fore.

This form of transparency can be, especially, helpful for perishable goods, medical supplies and fragile industrial products. Businesses can also use NFTs to enhance collaboration across

the supply chain – enabling them have one permanent track of records of the goods they procure. This ultimately helps businesses maintain a competitive advantage, cut costs, and build better inter- business relations.

As digital Identities

NFTs can also be used as digital identifiers. Their unique identifiers and qualities enable them to be potential tech candidates for a global registry. This is still controversial and industry players are still unsettled on how best to go about this.However, traction has been gained in the gaming industry where players can use NFTs to create unique personalities, ammunition or gaming accessories and even trade them. For sure , this is slowly gaining real-world adoption.

Some companies have developed NFT based KYC identifiers that automate the KYC process wile at the same time maintaining anonymity. What these do is that a user creates a single NFT with attributes  such as age, address, location and gender. These can then be used across multiple platforms anonymously in the event that one needs to pass KYC. The details can not be accessed publicly and can only be shared with express permission from the owner. In the UAE,

the government has established a digital presence(consulate) on the metaverse using web 3.0 technologies that also encompass NFTs. This metaverse is meant to offer a digitally immersive experience where the country can promote their services and  educate people about

the investment potential in this region. Visitors to the country’s digital platform will have a chance to interact with a customer representative and can be issued with a ticket where they’ll get their issues resolved.

These are tech  development that  can be directly  attributed to NFTs and their uses as this industry matures, more products and services will be developed anchored on this technology.

Hail, NFTs.This is the new norm.