Kiffmeister’s #Fintech Daily Digest (20230908)*

Hong Kong expands trial of China’s digital yuan to more banks

Hong Kong is reportedly actively testing China’s digital yuan and has entered the second phase of technical testing to incorporate a predominant local payment system. The Hong Kong Monetary Authority (HKMA) and the People’s Bank of China (PBOC) have completed the initial technical tests for cross-border payments using the digital yuan in Hong Kong. Currently, they are conducting the second phase of the technical trial, involving more Hong Kong banks and testing the digital yuan wallet’s top-up function through the Faster Payment System. [Read more at The Block]

Circle says its USDC stablecoin was as diversified as possible. Is that accurate?

JP Koning published an article that debunks Circle’s claim that the reserves backing its USDC stablecoin were “as diversified as possible” prior to the collapse of Silicon Valley Bank, in which $3.3 billion (8% of reserves) was held in the form of uninsured deposits. Circle blames banking for its woes, which is “extremely difficult” for crypto firms, but Paxos doesn’t seem to be having the same problem with its USDP stablecoin. $185.5 million were spread over thousands of banks using deposit placement networks like IntraFi, and were thus insured by the government. For the remainder, Paxos obtained $72 million worth private insurance. Only $10.9 million in deposits were effectively unprotected, a small 1.3% sliver of USDP’s total assets. JP askes, rather than keeping 8% of its assets lodged at a second tier bank without insurance, why didn’t Circle follow Paxos’s risk reduction strategy? [Read more at Moneyness]

Fortune magazine published a behind-the-scenes account of Circle’s Silicon Valley Bank (SVB) trials and tribultations. Circle’s management “devised a plan A, B, and C. The first failed when Circle’s attempted wire to get out its deposits didn’t go through. [They] remained optimistic that the government would guarantee its deposits—plan B. In case that didn’t work out, the executives spent the weekend negotiating deals with companies who would buy Circle’s SVB holdings for $0.85 on the dollar, which, along with Circle’s own balance sheet, would be enough to restore USDC’s reserves.” [Read more at Fortune]

IOSCO consults on global DeFi regulation. Targets MEV, developers 

The International Organization of Security Commissions (IOSCO) published a report on the regulation of decentralized finance (DeFi). It makes nine recommendations that include analyzing the DeFi protocol, identifying responsible persons and mapping functionality to existing regulated activities. The proposed recommendations are principles-based and outcomes-focused, and aimed at DeFi products, services, arrangements, and activities by applying IOSCO’s widely accepted  global standards for securities markets regulation. [Read more at IOSCO]

The oracle problem and the future of DeFi

The BIS published a paper on the role of oracles to import real-world data into blockchain-based decentralized finance (DeFi) environments for use in smart contracts. Smart contracts in DeFi rely on accurate reporting of real-world events to function correctly. The oracle problem poses a challenge of incorporating reliable real-world information into DeFi applications while maintaining the core principles of decentralization: trustlessness and no single point of failure. It underscores a notable limitation of DeFi, which requires sacrificing trust in intentions (whether individuals or institutions are fair and ethical) that cannot be fully captured by consensus protocols. This restricts the scope of DeFi to communities that are willing to rely solely on trust in competence. [Read more at the BIS]

*For those interested in intra-day updates, check out my searchable Diigo Fintech developments database, which is also a good place to go to query for past developments:

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