The Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) and Temasek today jointly released a report to mark the successful conclusion of the fifth and final phase of Project Ubin. The report provides technical insights into the blockchain-based multi-currency payments network prototype that was built and describes how the network could benefit the financial industry and blockchain ecosystem. It confirmed that an international settlement network, modelled after this payments network prototype, could enable faster and cheaper transactions than conventional cross-border payments channels. It also validated the use of smart contracts in use cases such as delivery-versus-payment (DvP) settlement with assets on private exchanges, conditional payments and escrow for trade, as well as payment commitments for trade finance.
Will smart contracts usher in a new wave of financial inclusion?
A World Bank report looked at the role smart contracts could play in improving financial services in poorer nations. It found that smart contracts will not alleviate a variety of common impediments to financial inclusion, including credit risk and income irregularity, distance and inaccessibility, limited awareness and financial literacy, and cultural factors. However, they could assist in determining whether a particular insurance product was suitable as well as increasing trust in the product amongst stakeholders. And on short-term loans, smart contracts could increase efficiency with the different phases of a loan cycle, but those phases are already highly automated, so the new technology would be redundant.
FCA ban on Wirecard UK left vulnerable without access to food
The UK Financial Conduct Authority forced Wirecard Card Solutions to halt all regulated activity after its German parent company collapsed into insolvency, before lifting the restrictions the following week. However, the move, announced with only a few hours’ notice, left millions of customers unable to use payment cards issued by WCS or access cash stored in their accounts. Some of the hardest hit included victims of human trafficking and modern slavery who rely on funds from a government scheme that was an indirect Wirecard customer, according to representatives for these individuals.
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