Kiffmeister’s #Fintech Daily Digest (20221124)

Central bank digital currencies in Africa

The Bank for International Settlements (BIS) published a paper that analyses the development, motivations and concerns of central bank digital currencies (CBDCs) in Africa. While all of those surveyed are analyzing CBDCs, only few have projects at advanced stages (pilot or live). Some countries, in particular in East and West Africa, stand out as promoting fast payment systems through mobile money, but half of the surveyed central banks think that CBDCs can provide a superior solution. A key motivation for African central banks is achieving greater payment system efficiency. In addition, a higher proportion than in other regions see potential benefits for monetary policy, an important consideration for a region where the transmission mechanism is weak. Central banks in Africa also place more emphasis on financial inclusion. At the same time, they are more worried than other regions about cyber security risks and cross-border spillovers and are also concerned about high operational burdens.

And speaking of high operational burdens,  only just over 40% of respondents favored a two-tier business model, with the central bank at the core, but private agents (banks and payment service providers) interacting with users (e.g., performing customer onboarding, including KYC/AML functions). Almost all central bank CBDC explorers I follow have dismissed the direct model in which the central bank does all of the “donkey work”. However, it should be noted that almost all of the other 60% or so of respondents were simply undecided about the business model at this point. The preference for a two-tier model is strongest among central banks for which financial disintermediation is a top concern. Bringing banks – and other PSPs – on board would encourage them to accept CBDCs. A two-tier model would facilitate collaboration and potentially draw on synergies with the private sector. [Read more at the BIS]

OXT Research provides proof of reserves for Grayscale

OXT Research has taken steps to confirm Grayscale’s self-reported Bitcoin (BTC) holdings that back its GBTC closed-end fund, based on public data and blockchain forensics. It confirmed that the approximate balance of 633,000 BTC held was held at Coinbase Custody, to conclude that Grayscale’s self-reporting is credible. OXT Research speculates that Grayscale might not want to disclose their addresses is that they want to avoid providing information about who their most used counterparties are, which could be its parent (DCG) and Genesis Trading, which is teetering on the edge of bankruptcy. [Read more at Bitcoinist]

Africa’s growing crypto market needs better regulations

The IMF published a blog on African countries’ approaches to regulating crypto-assets, finding that only one-quarter of countries in sub-Saharan Africa formally regulate crypto. However, two-thirds have implemented some restrictions and six countries—Cameroon, Ethiopia, Lesotho, Sierra Leone, Tanzania, and the Republic of Congo—have banned crypto. Zimbabwe has ordered all banks to stop processing transactions and Liberia directed a local crypto startup to cease operations (implicit bans). The blog also warned that public finances could be put at risk if crypto-assets are adopted as legal tender, as the Central African Republic recently did. [Read more at the IMF]

Here’s how far Fintech funding has fallen

According to Crunchbase, last year, financial services was the leading sector for venture investment, with at least $131 billion globally going into startups in the space. This year, the industry still ranks among the largest recipients of venture capital funding. However, investment to startups in the space has been dropping every quarter this year, with Q4 likely to be the lowest yet. Even with the steep year-over-year decline, financial services funding is still high by historical standards, and 2022 is on track to deliver the second-highest funding total of the past five years. [Read more at Crunchbase]

Digital Euro Association Digital Money Academy

I will be discussing global central bank digital currency (CBDC) developments at the Digital Euro Association’s Digital Money Academy on November 29. If you want to get into CBDCs, register for the Academy here!

Kiffmeister’s Global Central Bank Digital Currency Monthly Monitor

Just a reminder that I produce a monthly digest of central bank digital currency (CBDC) developments exclusively for the official sector. So for any of you out there who work for a central bank, ministry of finance or international financial institution who would like to receive it by email on the first business day of every month, please DM me on LinkedIn or email me at chronicles@kiffmeister.com.

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