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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Bitcoin on the Brink: What Could Trigger a Capitulation?

Bitcoin has been on a roller coaster ride over the past few weeks, with prices swinging wildly from highs of around $80k by June 2021 to lows below $15k in the past few weeks. This volatility is nothing new for Bitcoin, but it seems to ramp up as we approach what could be a critical juncture for the digital currency.

So, what exactly is a capitulation? The Cooperate Finance Institute has a concise definition.


In the financial world, it generally refers to a situation where investors give
up on an asset and sell it en masse, leading to a sharp decline in prices. This can often be seen as a final stage before prices bottom out and begin to rebound.

In the case of Bitcoin, a capitulation could be triggered by several factors, including the following:

When miners receive rewards in Bitcoin for verifying transactions, they are motivated to keep the network secure. However, if the price of Bitcoin falls below the cost of mining (i.e., electricity and other expenses), miners will be operating at a loss. As a result, they will be less likely to continue verifying transactions, and the Bitcoin network will become less secure. This is known as a miner capitulation. 

In a severe case, it can lead to a Bitcoin death spiral, in which the price of Bitcoin falls so low that no miners are willing to continue verifying transactions. This would make Bitcoin unusable as a currency, as there would be no way to verify transactions. Therefore, it is important for the price of Bitcoin to remain high enough to incentivize miners to keep the network secure.

Brain Drain

When people are anxious about the future, they tend to sell their assets and move their money into assets they see as safer. In the case of Bitcoin, when people become anxious about its future, they sell their Bitcoins and move their money into assets like the US dollar. 

This mass exodus of money from Bitcoin to other assets causes the price of Bitcoin to drop, which leads to even more people selling their Bitcoins, causing a downward spiral.

Closed/Overprotective Community

There have been a few times in Bitcoin’s history when the community has become too closed off and overprotective, leading to a capitulation. One such example was when Introducing NFTs to Bitcoin forums and discussion groups led to a massive flame war that ended in many members leaving the community. Another example was when the Bitcoin Lightning Network was first proposed, there was a lot of infighting, and eventually, some members left to start their own projects. While it’s understandable that people want to protect their investments, Ultimately, these capitulations happen because the community becomes too insular and fails to listen to new ideas. To avoid this in the future, it’s important for the community to remain open-minded and willing to discuss new proposals. 

Increased Regulation from Governments 

When a government begins to tighten its regulation of a particular industry – in this case, Bitcoin – it can significantly impact the market. In the case of Bitcoin, when it was announced that the governments of South Korea and China were planning to introduce new regulations around cryptocurrency, the price began to drop significantly. 

This is because investors felt that the increased regulation would make it more difficult to trade or use Bitcoin, so they began selling off their holdings. As more investors sold off their holdings, the price continued to drop until it reached a point where many people decided to sell their coins at a loss. This caused an overall panic in the market and led to a massive capitulation event.

Bitcoin Verdict

The jury is still out on whether or not Bitcoin will survive in the long term. However, it is clear that several factors could trigger a capitulation event.

If the price of Bitcoin falls too low, miners will be incentivized to leave the network, which could lead to a death spiral. Additionally, if investors start to panic, they may sell their holdings en masse, which could also lead to a capitulation.

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Tokenizing Debt: Flipping Debt into IOU tokens

recent article stated there were ongoing rumors that Celsius wanted to convert its debt into IOU tokens.  According to leaked audio, Celsius executives were mulling converting their debt into an IOU cryptocurrency and giving it out to their debtors as settlement. This token will be given as a ratio of what the firm owes its clients and what it currently has on its balance sheet- the notion being that if the debtors could hold on to these tokens for long, then they will ultimately increase in price and generate gains for their holders. The company recently filed for Chapter 11 Bankruptcy and they are in the process of restructuring and finding the best way to clear their debt.

What are IOU Tokens

IOU is an acronym and stands for I Owe You. It is a contract that is signed by two parties indicating that they acknowledge that debt is owed by one party to the other. These contracts can be digitized and brought into the blockchain and then converted into tradeable tokens. Value of the tokens is expected to be governed by market perception of the party offering the tokens. In the event that the company can prove that it is sustainable and has multiple income streams, then the market may be bullish about it therefore boosting the value of the token. These kinds of tokens can only be employed by companies that have fallen into debt and consider their current income streams insufficient to cater for the underlying debt while at the same time sustain day to day operations. Depending on the contract, the token can be bought back by the company at an agreed timeframe or simply traded at the secondary market.

IOU tokens are ingenious ways in which Blockchain companies are spinning their debt obligations into “ temporary assets” and trading them on secondary markets. Celsius is not the only company that has leveraged this new debt model. Recently, a Chinese Mining company, Poolin, suspended withdrawals on its site and thereafter issued IOU tokens to its users. Users were given these IOU tokens at a  ratio of 1:1 of their holdings on the platform. The users have the option of selling these tokens on third party websites, reselling back on the platform or even purchase products  from the company.

Recent goings on in the industry show that IOU tokens seem to act as a viable last resort for companies facing liquidity challenges. Wide adoption of these tokens may encourage brick and mortar companies that have solid assets but are facing temporary  liquidity challenges to consider floating IOU tokens. This will deepen Defi, enhance liquidity in the ecosystem and  help develop new and advanced products for this industry.