Kiffmeister’s #Fintech Daily Digest (20230201)

Cross-border cross-currency CBDCs and automated market-making

R3 published a report on the application of automated market makers (AMMs) to cross-border and cross-currency central bank digital currency (CBDC). AMM structures, which are are common in the decentralized finance (DeFi) ecosystem, increase price transparency, work for low liquidity instruments, and bring the process of trading and settlement closer together. Such outcomes could benefit segments of today’s FX market. However, adapting AMM to  spot FX markets will need to answer questions including: who would run it, what formula might be appropriate for larger transactions, and how to incentivize participants. [Read more at R3]

UK Government outlines plans to regulate crypto-asset industry

The UK Government has floated proposals to bring cryptoassets into the same regulatory regime as traditional financial services. The consultation sets out key design features of the regime covering themes such as prudential requirements, data reporting, consumer protection, location policy and operational resilience. The paper also proposes regimes for a range of cross-cutting issues which apply across crypto-asset activities and business models, including market abuse and crypto-asset issuance and disclosures. [Read more at HM Treasury]

Fintech funding drops 46%; banking startups among worst hit

In 2022, fintech companies secured a total of $75.2 billion in funding, a 46% decline from 2021. Deal counts also decreased, falling 8% year-on-year from 5,474 deals in 2021 to 5,048 deals last year. Fintech funding steady declined throughout the year, dropping from $30.4 billion in Q1 to $21.2 billion in Q2, $13 billion in Q3 and $10.7 billion in Q4 – the latter being the lowest level since 2018. Banking startups took the biggest hit, with funding plummeting 63% and deals falling 33% year-over-year. [Read more at FintechNews.ch]

DeFi fans are courting traders in $7.2 trillion currency market

A paper by Uniswap and Circle staff compared the traditional trading and settlement of FX with blockchain-based implementations using payment stablecoins and automated market making protocols. Using public blockchain data, they quantified the liquidity, stability, and transaction costs of on-chain FX transactions in early adoption. Their estimates suggested that on-chain FX can reduce the cost of remittance by as much as 80%. [Read more at SSRN]

Crypto money laundering: four exchange deposit addresses received over $1 billion in illicit funds in 2022

According to Chainalysis, illicit addresses sent nearly $23.8 billion worth of cryptocurrency in 2022, a 68.0% increase over 2021. As is usually the case, mainstream centralized exchanges were the biggest recipient of illicit cryptocurrency, taking in just under half of all funds sent from illicit addresses. More illicit funds were sent to DeFi protocols than ever before, a continuation of a trend that began in 2020. [Read more at Chainalysis]

Upcoming conferences, webinars and speaking engagements:

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.

The Sovereign Official Digital Association (SODA) is a technology-agnostic firm offering advisory services at the intersection of central banking, digital finance and the web3 industry, aiming to make public digital money a reality. SODA believes institutions in the existing financial ecosystem should have access to the tools and resources they need to move from discussion to action. SODA offers ‘real life’ use cases to help test digital money and drive adoption as central banks and other public institutions explore the future of a more financially inclusive world powered by interoperable blockchain-based networks. SODA would love you to join us on this journey – please get in touch (chris@sodapublicmoney.org).

Satoshi Capital Advisors is a New York-based, global advisory firm that works with central banks, governments, and the private sector to architect, implement, and operate varying initiatives. Satoshi Capital Advisors’ central bank work revolves around CBDC architecture and implementation, providing advisory services from research phase through to growth phase. Utilizing a product-market fit and technology agnostic approach to CBDC architecture and implementation enables Satoshi Capital Advisors to build tailored solutions, bespoke to local financial system nuances. Satoshi Capital Advisors welcomes requests from central bank officials for virtual and in-person CBDC workshops. [Click here for more information]

WhisperCash offers the first fully offline digital currency platform that has the same properties as physical cash. It can perform secure consecutive offline payments without compromising on security, privacy or accessibility. WhisperCash allows direct person to person offline payments without any server infrastructure or internet connectivity. It comes in various form factors including the self-contained credit card-sized “Pro” that sports an eInk screen and capacitive keyboard, and lasts for two weeks between recharges assuming a few transactions per day. [Click here for more information]

Kiffmeister’s #Fintech Daily Digest (20221110)

For those interested in following the trails and tribulations around the FTX exchange collapse, I’m collecting my favorite articles here on my Diigo social bookmarking page. See also below for the impact on the pegs of the two biggest US dollar-pegged stablecoins, Tether’s USDT and Circle’s USDC.

Project Tourbillon explores cyber resiliency, scalability and privacy in a prototype CBDC

The BIS Innovation Hub’s Swiss Centre launched Project Tourbillon to explore how to reconcile central bank digital currency (CBDC) design trade-offs between cyber resiliency, scalability and privacy. For example, higher resiliency against cyber-attacks requires additional cryptography, which can slow down payment processing. Privacy must be weighed against the need to counter money laundering, terrorism financing and other illicit payments. Project Tourbillon aims to reconcile these trade-offs by combining proven technologies such as blind signatures and mix networks with the latest research on cryptography and CBDC design suggested by David Chaum and Thomas Moser in a 2021 Swiss National Bank working paper. The conclusions of this project will be relevant for both wholesale and retail CBDC systems. The goal is to finish the prototype by mid-2023. [Read more at the BIS]

Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe launches a consumer survey on CBDC

As part of its efforts to explore CBDC, the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe is conducting a consumer survey that closes on December 7. [Read more on Twitter]

G-sec transactions using digital rupee recorded highest volume since inception on November 7

Transactions in Indian government securities in the secondary market using the the Reserve Bank of India’s prototype wholesale CBDC recorded the highest volume on November 7, 2022 since its inception. [Read more at MoneyControl and some statistics on CBDC-related bond trades are available at the Clearing Corporation of India]

Countries to face ‘grey list’ in anti-terror crackdown on crypto

The Financial Action Task Force (FATF) is reportedly preparing to increase the frequency of its checks to ensure countries are enforcing anti-money laundering and terrorist financing rules in relation to digital assets, from every ten-years to annually. This will give non-compliant countries less time to comply, raising the risk that they are added to a grey list of countries subject to increased monitoring, although failure to comply will not automatically result in grey listing. [Read more at Al Jazeera]

Tether and Circle look to allay fears of USDT and USDC exposure to FTX and Alameda

Tether and Circle, the issuers of USDT and USDC, have both moved to allay fears that their US dollar-pegged stablecoins are directly exposed to the fallout from the FTX debacle. CTO Paolo Ardoino said that Tether has no exposure to FTX or Alameda, although Alameda has previously redeemed a lot of USDT, but no credit exposure has matured. CEO Jeremy Allaire said that Circle has never made loans to FTX or Alameda, and has never received FTX’s native token, FTT, as collateral, nor has it ever traded or held a position in FTT. Interestingly, both USDT and USDC became briefly unpegged today (November 10, 2022), with USDT spiking down, and Circle spiking up (see graphs below).

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.

Satoshi Capital Advisors is a New York-based, global advisory firm that works with central banks, governments, and the private sector to architect, implement, and operate varying initiatives. Satoshi Capital Advisors’ central bank work revolves around CBDC architecture and implementation, providing advisory services from research phase through to growth phase. Utilizing a product-market fit and technology agnostic approach to CBDC architecture and implementation enables Satoshi Capital Advisors to build tailored solutions, bespoke to local financial system nuances. Satoshi Capital Advisors welcomes requests from central bank officials for virtual and in-person CBDC workshops. [Click here for more information]

WhisperCash offers the first fully offline digital currency platform that has the same properties as physical cash. It can perform secure consecutive offline payments without compromising on security, privacy or accessibility. WhisperCash allows direct person to person offline payments without any server infrastructure or internet connectivity. It comes in various form factors including the self-contained credit card-sized “Pro” that sports an eInk screen and capacitive keyboard, and lasts for two weeks between recharges assuming a few transactions per day. [Click here for more information]

Kiffmeister’s #Fintech Daily Digest (20220902)

A conversation on CBDCs, with Jamiel Sheikh, of the CBDC Think Tank

Forbes published an interview focused on central bank digital currency (CBDC) with Jamiel Sheikh , CEO of the CBDC Think Tank (CBDCTT). The CBDCTT delivers education, the CBDC Summit in Washington D.C in collaboration with the IMF,  and is expanding into advisory with a number of key clients and central banks.  A key interview takeaway for me was the stressing of the importance of central banks building internal CBDC competencies instead of relying on vendors. [Read more at Forbes]

Central Bank of Nigeria announces eNaira’s Integration with NIBSS

The Nigerian Central Bank (CBN) has declared the eNaira to be completely implemented into the Nigeria Inter-Bank Settlement System (NIBSS) Customers can now transfer money from their eNaira wallet to any Nigerian bank account of their choice thanks to the integration with NIBBS Instant Payments (NIP), the country’s main payment system. NIP is a virtual real-time Inter-Bank payment method based on account numbers. [Read more on the CBN Twitter feed]

The Perverse Impacts of the Anti-Money-Laundering System

In theory, anti-money laundering (AML) measures are meant to identify and stop the global movement of funds either earned through criminal activity or intended to fund bad actors. However, Matt Collin, a global development specialist who works with the Brookings Institution and the World Bank, says he is unaware of a single economic study clearly showing a reduction of crime following new AML rules (though he admits such a study might be difficult to design). [Read more on CoinDesk]

Reimagining Money in the Age of Crypto and Central Bank Digital Currency

The future of money is undoubtedly digital, and in the latest issue of the IMF’s Finance & Development some of the world’s leading experts explore what it will look like? It includes my article about offline central bank digital currency (CBDC). [Read more at the IMF]

Discounted tickets available for CBDC Think Tank masterclass

The CBDC Think Tank, in partnership with the International Monetary Fund and George Washington University, is hosting a full-day in-person CBDC Masterclass on October 12 in Washington DC. The sessions are designed as instructional deep dives with full presentations and Q&A components.  Ticket prices are as low as $99 and you can save 30% by entering KIFFMEISTER where the registration page asks for a discount code. [Register here]

Also, the CBDC Think Tank, in partnership with Georgetown University and the DC FinTech Week, is hosting a FREE Digital Currency Lecture Series, a set of digital currency lightning talks delivered by subject matter experts, on October 14 in Washington DC. [Request an invite 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.

Kiffmeister’s #Fintech Daily Digest (20220809)

Retail Central Bank Digital Currency: Current Landscape

I often get asked to share what I know about which central banks are doing what in the retail central bank digital currency (CBDC) space, so I’ve posted an abbreviated version of my retail CBDC presentation slides here.

Reserve Bank of Australia to Explore Use Cases for CBDC

The Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA) has launched a research project to explore use cases for a CBDC in Australia. It is expected to take about a year to complete, and will involve the development of a limited-scale CBDC pilot that will operate in a ring-fenced environment for a period of time. Interested industry participants will be invited to develop specific use cases that demonstrate how a CBDC could be used to provide innovative and value-added payment and settlement services to households and businesses. The Bank and the DFCRC will then select a range of different use cases to participate in the pilot, based on their potential to provide insights into the possible benefits of a CBDC. [Read more at the RBA]

Chainalysis says $2 billion stolen in cross-chain bridge hacks this year, more expected

Chainalysis says cross-chain bridges that allow transfer of assets between independent blockchains are among the highest risk protocols in the blockchain industry for scams and bad actors. Chainalysis in a new report estimates that $2 billion worth of cryptocurrency has been stolen from cross-chain bridges across 13 attacks so far this year, accounting for 69% of all stolen funds during that time. Cross-chain bridges were once considered the solution to interoperability between blockchains in the crypto industry, but as the protocols continue to seem vulnerable to hacks and attacks that view is beginning to change. [Read more at Chainalysis]

U.S. Treasury Sanctions Virtual Currency Mixer Tornado Cash

The U.S. Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) sanctioned Tornado Cash, a crypto-asset mixer that mixes potentially identifiable or “tainted” cryptocurrency funds with others, so as to obscure the trail back to the fund’s original source. OFAC claims that Tornado Cash has been used to launder more than $7 billion worth of virtual currency since its creation in 2019. The sanctions mean U.S. crypto investors can no longer use Tornado Cash. 38 ETH addresses and 6 USDC addresses were added to OFAC’s Specially Designated Nationals (SDN) list. Circle, the issuer of the USDC stablecoin, reportedly froze over $75,000 worth of USDC funds linked to those 6 USDC addresses. Several leading figures in the crypto industry expressed their concerns about the sanctions. [Read more at Finance Magnates]

Survey on potential CBDC use cases in the Asia-Pacific region

Deborah Healey and Heng Wang of the University of New South Wales have launched a study of the impact of retail central bank digital currency (CBDC) on stakeholders and consumers across the Asia-Pacific region. In that regard they are inviting such stakeholders and consumers in the region to take part in a survey on the potential uses of retail CBDC in Asia. The survey should take 12-15 minutes to complete and will be active until midnight August 24, 2022 (AEST). Responses will be anonymous and not attributed to users or their organizations. If you have any questions, would like an invitation to the launch and a copy of the final report please email d.healey@unsw.edu.au. Also, please feel free to share this request with others in the region. [Click here to take the survey]

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.

Upcoming events I’m affiliated with:

The CBDC Think Tank, in partnership with the International Monetary Fund and George Washington University, is hosting a full-day in-person CBDC Masterclass on October 12 in Washington DC. The sessions are designed as instructional deep dives with full presentations and Q&A components.  [Register here]

The CBDC Think Tank, in partnership with Georgetown University and the DC FinTech Week, is hosting a Digital Currency Lecture Series, a set of digital currency lightning talks delivered by subject matter experts, on October 14 in Washington DC. [Request an invite here]

Kiffmeister’s #Fintech Daily Digest (20220801)

Israel puts the brakes on cash to spur digital payments

The Israeli Tax Authority has placed further restrictions on cash payments to allow authorities to more easily track tax evasion, black market activity and money laundering, and spur digital payments. Since January 2019, Israeli businesses and consumers have been subject to limits on cash payments under the Law for the Reduction in the Use of Cash. They have now been tightened to 6,000 shekels ($1,760) for business and 15,000 shekels ($4,400) for personal transactions. [Read more at CoinTelegraph]

Binance Compliance Officer: KYC Cost Exchange ‘Billions in Revenue’

Reuters recently published a series of investigative reports on Binance and its association with illicit activity, claiming that Binance has become a hub for criminal activity and that it overlooked several money-laundering red flags. In a CoinDesk interview, Tigran Gambaryan and Matthew Price, key members of Binance’s compliance team and former investigators at the U.S. Internal Revenue Service’s cybercrime unit, disputed a number of these claims. In particular, they claimed that proportional to trading volumes, illicit trading on Binance is no worse than on other exchanges. [Read more at CoinDesk]

Millicent Successfully Tests a General Purpose Full-Reserve Stablecoin

Millicent, a fintech company co-funded by the Innovate UK, has successfully performed a test of a full-reserve stablecoin aimed at the retail market. The reserves are held in a ringfenced account safeguarded by a regulated third party, directly at the Bank of England. Millicent runs on a hybrid Layer-1 distributed ledger network. A sandbox demonstration simulated fiat on-ramping via Faster Payments from a UK consumer bank, as well as the on-chain conversion and minting of GBP-pegged stablecoins, and a variety of payment and settlement scenarios. [Read more at Yahoo Finance]

European banking regulator ‘concerned’ about finding staff to oversee crypto

European Banking Authority Chair José Manuel Campa views the regulator’s ability to hire and retain specialized staff as a “major concern”, particularly in the areas of technology, anything related to crypto and digitization. “This is in high demand across society.” [Read more in Finextra]

Upcoming events I’m affiliated with:

The CBDC Think Tank, in partnership with the International Monetary Fund and George Washington University, is hosting a full-day in-person CBDC Masterclass on October 12 in Washington DC. The sessions are designed as instructional deep dives with full presentations and Q&A components.  [Register here]

Kiffmeister’s #Fintech Daily Digest (20220630)

Grayscale Sues SEC Over Bitcoin ETF Application Rejection

Grayscale Investments’ application to convert its $13.5 billion Grayscale Bitcoin Trust (GBTC) into a spot-based bitcoin exchange-traded fund (ETF) was denied by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), because the application failed to answer questions about preventing market manipulation, as well as other concerns. Consequently, Grayscale immediately launched a law suit asking the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit to review the SEC’s rejection order, alleging that the SEC is failing to apply consistent treatment to similar investment vehicles that it has approved like futures-based bitcoin ETFs, and is therefore in violation of the Administrative Procedure Act and Securities Exchange Act of 1934. [Read more]

Targeted Update on Implementation of FATF’s Standards on VAs and VASPs

The Financial Action Task Force (FATF) published an update on implementation of its standards on virtual assets (VAs) and VA service providers (VASPs), with a focus on the travel rule, which requires VASPs to collect and share with each other personal data on both senders and receivers in transactions exceeding USD/EUR 1,000. In other words, the personal data of the transacting parties is supposed to “travel” along with their transfers. The report that notes only 11 of 98 surveyed jurisdictions are enforcing and supervising it. The also report highlights the continued need to monitor monitor the growth of, and illicit financing risks associated with decentralized finance (DeFi) and non-fungible token (NFT) markets and unhosted wallets. [Read more]

Prudential treatment of crypto-asset exposures – second consultation

The Basel Committee on Banking Supervision has published a second public consultation on the prudential treatment of banks’ crypto-asset exposures. It builds on the preliminary proposals set out in the June 2021 consultation and the responses received from stakeholders. The basic structure of the proposal in the first consultation is maintained, with crypto-assets divided into two broad groups; Group 1 including those eligible for treatment under the existing Basel Framework with some modifications, and Group 2 including unbacked crypto-asset and stablecoins with ineffective stabilization mechanisms,  which would be subject to a new conservative prudential treatment including an overall gross limit on such holdings. The updated proposals provide more detail on the proposed standard and include new elements such as an infrastructure risk add-on to cover the new and evolving risks of distributed ledger technologies.  [Read more]

The road to enhanced payments

In this March 31 speech that I overlooked, the Bank of England’s Victoria Cleland introduces Project Meridian, a joint initiative with the BIS Innovation Hub that will prototype and test end-to-end flow of real-time gross settlement (RTGS) platform synchronized settlement, which could be used for different trades such as securities and foreign exchange. Synchronization would enable the cash movements in RTGS to happen if and only if a corresponding asset on another ledger is transferred, which is something that wholesale central bank digital currency (WCBDC) aficionados imply requires a distributed ledger technology (DLT) platform. Ms. Cleland makes a point that I make frequently in webinars and workshops:

“I do wonder though whether the term “wholesale CBDC” is a misnomer. Electronic central bank money has been available to financial institutions for decades via RTGS systems. In the provision of central bank infrastructure the key is not the label, but who can access it and what functionality is provided.” [Read more]

Upcoming events I’m affiliated with:

The CBDC Think Tank, in partnership with the International Monetary Fund and George Washington University, is hosting a full-day in-person CBDC Masterclass on October 12 in Washington DC. The sessions are designed as instructional deep dives with full presentations and Q&A components.  [Register here]