Kiffmeister’s #Fintech Daily Digest (20230128)

Are there tech solutions to the privacy and compliance trade-offs for CBDCs?

Users will likely demand cash-like privacy protections for central bank digital currency (CBDC), which may be thwarted by regulations. However, in an article for CoinDesk, Jonas Gross and I outline new technology solutions that may enable high degrees of privacy while complying with regulations. [Read more at CoinDesk]

Banks will dominate stablecoins, and two other predictions about the future of money

My SODA colleague Chris Ostrowski and Chris Hayes, in another CoinDesk article, make three predictions on the landscape for CBDCs and stablecoins in Europe and in the U.S. based on the trends they’ve seen through engagement with central bankers and policymakers. [Read more at CoinDesk]

DC³ conference – from cryptocurrencies to CBDCs​​

I moderated a couple of sessions on offline central bank digital currency (CBDC) at the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) DC³ “From Cryptocurrencies to CBDCs”​​ conference on January 27, 2023. The first session was on the importance of offline payments for CBDCs and financial inclusion at which cases were presented by Lars Hupel (G+D), Razvan Dragomirescu (WhisperCash), Joachim Samuelsson (Crunchfish) and Jerome Ajdenbaum (IDEMIA). The second session was a deep dive into offline CBDC implementaion and risk management presented by Lauren Del Giudice (IDEMIA) and Stuart Smith (VISA). [Both sessions were recorded and are available at the ITU]

Kansas City Fed rejects Custodia’s master account application

The Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City has denied Custodia Bank’s application for a master account, according to a U.S. district court filing. The Kansas City Fed disclosed the rejection in a motion to dismiss filed with the U.S. District Court of Wyoming on Friday afternoon. Custodia is suing both the Kansas City Fed and the Fed Board of Governors over its long-delayed application for a master account, which grants access to the Fed’s various financial services, including its payment system. In its filing, the Kansas City Fed and the Board of Governors argue that the ruling should render Custodia’s lawsuit moot. The bank had sought to pressure the Fed to make a decision about its two-year-old application, arguing that it had been subject to an unreasonable delay. Nathan Miller, a spokesman for Custodia, said the bank plans to continue its litigation against the Fed, noting that the bank intends to challenge whether the bank has congressional authority to pick and choose which institutions can have master accounts. Custodia and others argue that any state chartered depository is entitled to master account access. [Read more at the American Banker

Federal Reserve Board issues policy statement to promote a level playing field for all banks with a federal supervisor, regardless of deposit insurance status

The Federal Reserve Board (FRB) issued a policy statement to promote a level playing field for all banks with a federal supervisor, regardless of deposit insurance status. The statement makes clear that uninsured and insured banks supervised by the Board will be subject to the same limitations on activities, including novel banking activities, such as crypto-asset-related activities. The statement also makes clear that uninsured and insured banks supervised by the Board would be subject to the limitations on certain activities imposed on national banks, which are overseen by the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency. The equal treatment will promote a level playing field and limit regulatory arbitrage… The Board generally believes that issuing dollar- denominated tokens (dollar tokens) using distributed ledger technology or similar technologies on open, public, and/or decentralized networks, or similar systems is highly likely to be inconsistent with safe and sound banking practices. The Board believes such tokens raise concerns related to operational, cybersecurity, and run risks, and may also present significant illicit finance risks, because—depending on their design—such tokens could circulate continuously, quickly, pseudonymously, and indefinitely among parties unknown to the issuing bank. Importantly, the Board believes such risks are pronounced where the issuing bank does not have the capability to obtain and verify the identity of all transacting parties, including for those using unhosted wallets. [Read more at the FRB]

White House calls on congress to ‘step up its efforts’ on crypto regulation

The Biden administration published a statement urging Congress to “step up its efforts” with respect to regulating the cryptocurrency market. Other suggestions included strengthening transparency and disclosure requirements for crypto companies, strengthening penalties for violations of illicit-finance rules, and working more closely with international law enforcement partners. The officials also made suggestions about what Congress should not do in terms of crafting new crypto regulation, including “greenlight[ing] mainstream institutions, like pension funds, to dive headlong into cryptocurrency markets.” [Read more at the White House

Upcoming conferences, webinars and speaking engagements:

  • I’ll be speaking at SettleMint’s “central banks leading the way in the decentralized world” webinar on February 1 at 17:00 GST. [Register here]
  • I’ll be moderating a panel on “what happens when the lights go out…different schemes for offline functionality” at the in-person Digital Currency Conference (DCC) in Mexico City on May 18. [Register 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.

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 (20230127)

To demand or not to demand: on quantifying the future appetite for CBDC

The IMF published a paper by Marco Gross and Elisa Letizia that proposes a structural, stock-flow consistent model of banks, the central bank, and the private sector economic environment. It can be used to examine the impact of introducing a central bank digital currency (CBDC), to estimate its uptake, alongside its impact on bank balance sheets and profitability, monetary policy effectiveness, central bank seigniorage, and various other metrics. A “deposit-like” CBDC remunerated at the policy rate results in an estimated upper bound of CBDC uptake share of 25% of total “money” (cash, bank deposits and CBDC) in the United States and up to 20% in the Eurozone. However, uptakes of unremunerated “cash-like” CBDCs would be well below 5%. The less deposit-like (and the more cash-like) and the lower the remuneration rate, the smaller the CBDC uptake (see figure below). The model codes have been made publicly available, for transparency and to allow applying the model to other countries. [Read more at the IMF]

The U.S. Federal Reserve Board denies Custodia Bank’s Federal Reserve System application

The Federal Reserve Board has denied Custodia Bank’s application to become a member of the Federal Reserve System, saying that it is inconsistent with the required factors under the law. Custodia is a Wyoming-chartered special purpose depository institution, which does not have federal deposit insurance. According to the denial, Custodia is proposing to engage in “novel and untested crypto activities that include issuing a crypto asset on open, public and/or decentralized networks that… present significant safety and soundness risks… The Board has previously made clear that such crypto activities are highly likely to be inconsistent with safe and sound banking practices, and it found that Custodia’s risk management framework was insufficient to address [these] concerns [and] its ability to mitigate money laundering and terrorism financing risks. [Read more at the Federal Reserve Board]

Enabling offline payments in an online world

Crunchfish and Lipis Advisors published a guide to offline payments design, providing insights to how offline payments relate and can interoperate with online payment system. It provides a way of categorizing offline payment solutions by three design choices which provides the payment ecosystem with a better understanding of the nuances of offline payments:

  • Online Payment Rail: (i) distributed ledger technology (DLT) based or (ii) centralized account-based. (The paper incorrectly labels DLT-based as token-based (see the 2020 New York Fed article on this misnomer)).
  • Offline Security Protocol: (i) native (layer-1) or (ii) non-native (layer-2) digital currency security protocol, described in relation to the underlying online payment rail.
  • Offline Trusted Environment: (i) hardware-based or (ii) software-based.

On a layer-1 solution the offline payment solution uses the same native security protocols as the underlying payment service. On a non-native layer-2 security protocol, digital currency is signed out by debiting a locally held offline balance. A non-native layer-2 solution can be integrated with any type of payment rail and general ledger as the offline security protocol can be interoperable with any underlying payment system. [Read more at Crunchfish]

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 (20230113)

E-CNY app adds payment function for when mobiles are offline, out of power

The People’s Bank of China (PBOC) has added a new function to its e-CNY payment app so that select Android-based mobile phones can be still be used to make tap-to-pay payments without internet connection or power. Users need to activate the function in the e-yuan app, and can choose how many times it can be used and how much can be paid after their phone shuts down. To allay security concerns, A verification code must be entered into the device if set payment and transaction limits are exceeded. Additionally, users can suspend the function by logging into the e-yuan app from another device. It apparently uses near-field Communications (NFC) technology, and payment amounts are limited to ten transactions of up to RMB 500 ($75). [Read more at Yicai Global].

Market research on possible technical solutions for a digital euro

As announced in December 2022, the European Central Bank (ECB) is inviting market participants to take part in market research to get an overview of options for the technical design of possible digital euro components and services. Participation is voluntary and will not have any impact on eligibility for future procurement procedures related to a digital euro or any other topic. Nor will it imply any pre-selection for a potential subsequent tender. Submissions are due by February 17, 2023 in a fully anonymous manner, avoiding trade names. [Read more at the ECB]

Addressing the risks in crypto: laying out the options

A Bank of International Settlements (BIS) paper suggests that authorities can take three different approaches when it comes to crypto-assets; targeted regulation, containment (“let crypto burn”), or  a complete ban. Central banks and public authorities could also work to make traditional finance (TradFi) more attractive. A key option is to encourage sound innovation with central bank digital currency (CBDC). [Read more at the BIS]

Mobile money activity rates: Exploring barriers to regular use

The Global System for Mobile Communications (GSMA) is exploring of low mobile money activity rates. Despite high sign-up rates, only 26% of accounts are active on a monthly basis, while 38% are active on a 90-day basis. Findings from the annual GSMA Consumer Survey run in ten countries in 2021 shed light on perceived reasons for low activity. The main barriers were found to be a preference for cash, lacking sufficient funds for mobile money to be useful and not needing mobile money due to alternative electronic financial services. Other important barriers include users having a limited ability in using a phone, and mobile money transaction costs being too high. [Read more at the GSMA]

2nd Edition of DC³ Conference – From Cryptocurrencies to Central Bank Digital Currencies (CBDCs)

The International Telecommunication Union (ITU) will hold (virtually) the second edition of its DC3 Conference – From Cryptocurrencies to Central Bank Digital Currencies (CBDCs)​ from January 24 to 27 2023. On January 27 I will be moderating two panels on offline central bank digital currency (CBDC). Also, on January 24, Jacques Francouer and I will be providing an update to our ITU Digital Currency Global Initiative digital currency ontology work. [For more event detail go to the ITU DC3 conference site]

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 (20221014)

European Data Protection Board statement on the digital euro

The European Data Protection Board (EDPB) reiterated the importance of ensuring digital euro privacy and data protection by design and by default. The EDPB cautioned against the use of systematic validation and tracing of all transactions in digital euros. In this respect, the EDPB recommended that the digital euro be made available both online and offline, along a threshold below which no tracing is possible, to allow full anonymity of daily transactions. [Read more at the EDPB]

Tether Slashes Commercial Paper to Zero

Tether has completely eliminated commercial paper from its USDT stablecoin reserves, replacing them with U.S. Treasury Bills. [Read more at Tether.io]

Digital yuan transactions volume crossed $14B mark

China’s central bank digital currency (CBDC) project has reached the roughly 100 billion yuan ($14 billion) transaction mark during its pilot phase. “Multiple e-government service platforms have opened digital renminbi payment services, supporting online and offline channels to handle various public utility payments, using digital renminbi to issue tax rebate funds, special funds for monthly medical insurance payment, funds for helping people in need, and ‘specialized, special and new’ enterprise support funds, etc.” Going forward, the People’s Bank of China (PBOC) plans to launch the cross-border payments between Hong Kong and mainland China, following the principle of “anonymity for small amounts and traceability of large amounts” to protect the user’s personal data. [Read more on the PBOC’s WeChat page]

Canada’s real-time payments system’s launch delayed

The launch of Canada’s Real-Time Rail (RTR) payments system has been pushed back from the middle of next year to an as yet undetermined date. Payments Canada says an extension will “provide additional time to validate and test the components and end-to-end integration”. RTR will allow Canadians to initiate payments and receive irrevocable funds in seconds, 24/7/365. The system will tap the ISO 20022 messaging standard to support payment information traveling with every payment. [Read more at Payments Canada]

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 (20220802)

Taking digital currencies offline

The IMF published an article of mine on offline central bank digital currency (CBDC) in their Finance & Development magazine. [Read more here]

China’s central bank to expand digital yuan pilot program

The People’s Bank of China (PBoC) has listed the “orderly expansion of the scope of the digital yuan pilot” as one of its key tasks in the second half of the year, according to the central bank’s work plan. [Read more at the PBOC]

Towards the holy grail of cross-border payments

The European Central Bank (ECB) published a paper that describes current visions of how to eventually find the holy grail of immediate, cheap, universal cross-border payments settled in a secure settlement medium. It focuses on six potential solutions; (i) modernized correspondent banking; (ii) emerging cross-border FinTech solutions; (iii) Bitcoin; (iv) global stablecoins; (v) interlinked instant payment systems with FX conversion layer; (vi) interlinked CBDC with FX conversion layer. For each, settlement mechanics are explained, and an assessment is provided on its potential to be the holy grail of cross-border payments. Several solutions are suitable for improving cross-border payments significantly, and some could even be the holy grail. [Read more at the ECB]

Crypto collapse: 3AC’s Grayscale two-step — and where in the world are Zhu and Davies?

Amy Castor and David Gerard have published another excellent crypto crash update, including how bankruptcy works and how administrative costs suck up hundreds of millions of dollars before creditors see a penny, why Tether may be required to return $840 million in assets to Celsius, and the FDIC and the Feds cease and desist statement to Voyager. [Read on David’s blog]

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]