Kiffmeister’s #Fintech Daily Digest (03/31/2021)*

The Eastern Caribbean Central Bank (ECCB) hosted a regional media event to mark the public roll-out of the ECCB’s DCash central bank digital currency (CBDC).

Bank Negara Malaysia to Evaluate Merits of Digital Currencies Through POCs

Bank Negara Malaysia is “actively building internal capacity to support informed decisions” on central bank digital currency (CBDC) including conducting proofs of concepts (POCs). Though they do not have any immediate plans to issue CBDC they will “actively assess the potential value proposition of CBDC”. The central bank said that policy decisions around CBDCs will be guided by whether it is able to demonstrate clear benefits to Malaysia as a whole while ensuring that risks from CBDCs are effectively managed, in particular, the financial stability risks.

Facebook messaging service gets delayed Brazil nod for payments

Banco Central do Brasil cleared the way for Facebook’s WhatsApp messaging service to let its users send each other funds using the Visa and Mastercard card networks, months after vetoing WhatsApp’s initial attempt. However, WhatsApp is only allowed to do peer-to-peer payments, not involving merchants, unlike the free Pix service, which can be used to pay businesses and individuals. Facebook is still seeking approval to operate with merchants.  

Bakkt Launches Digital Wallet to Manage All Forms of Digital Assets

Bakkt announced the launch of the Bakkt App, a digital wallet that brings together bitcoin and other forms of digital assets into one platform. The Bakkt App gives consumers the power to convert participating rewards points to cash or using bitcoin as payment, for example – all within one user-friendly application. Bakkt estimates that there are over $1.2 trillion in digital assets currently held in cryptocurrencies, loyalty and rewards points, and gift cards. Bakkt’s goal is to make all digital assets as liquid as any fiat currency. 

U.K. FCA Consults on Special Purpose Acquisition Companies (SPACs)

The U.K. Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) will be consulting on amendments to its Listing Rules and related guidance to strengthen protections for investors in Special Purpose Acquisition Companies (SPACs). The consultation will consider the structural features and enhanced disclosure, including a minimum market capitalisation and a redemption option for investors, required to provide appropriate investor protection. Our proposals will help to ensure that SPACs operate within a framework of high regulatory standards and oversight. Where such protections are in place, we consider that the existing presumption of suspension of the listing for such companies at the point of announcement of an acquisition target is no longer required and we therefore intend to consult on this basis, aligning this element of our rules more closely with other major jurisdictions.  

* The views expressed herein are those of the author and should not be attributed to the International Monetary Fund, its Executive Board or its management.