A Week to Remember (August 2019)
Eventful week, the week 24-31 August 2019, in Cryptovalley and beyond. First, after months of visionary, creative, hard and disciplined work, two Swiss regulated universal cryptobanks (banking and securities dealers licenses) were born - SEBA and Sygnum. A unique experience - navigating uncharted waters - for those (like me) who have been directly involved. The delivery is a game changer for the crypto and the broader financial ecosystem. Second, FINMA issued Swiss-finished crypto AML rules: Rules that are more stringent than the international FATF standard. Departing from an international standard is particularly bad if the direction is ‘less’ (worst case: not applied). ‘More’ may be good for the ecosystem in the longer term if the quantum is administered thoughtfully. Bank's capital rules teach. But embedded in the FATF standard is the complex VASP travel rule, the implementation of which (as highlighted in an event organized by Crypto Valley Association) requires detailed conceptual clarity and a crypto SWIFT. The race to provide it is open. Third, the visit by US House representatives to Swiss authorities re Libra did not temper the(ir) concerns. No surprise. The concerns raised by a stable coin à la Libra are geopolitically monetary in nature and can only be tempered at the G7-G20 level.
Facebook's Libra: A quick assessment (22 June 2019)
Libra is a fintech innovation seriously challenging banking, leveraging real problems of financial inclusion and anachronistic banking, the network of FB and associated partners, and blockchain technology. It is contributing to mass crypto adoption. It doesn’t piggyback on traditional card system, but is debit card in nature - little to do with bitcoin and (its) decentralized blockchain(s). It is a centralised enterprise, potentially a gigantic systemically relevant fund manager (100% backup), supporting government debt, and with an option to operate fractional reserve. Even if Libra technically managed to reconcile highest blockchain consensus security with full decentralization and VISA-like performance, it wouldn’t really have interest in moving beyond the 100 nodes, as this would dilute RoE. Libra’s regulatory ride will be tortuous and long. Regulators emphasize “mass regulation before mass adoption”. Anticipating systemic importance, they will hold it against the highest prudential standards. The importance of central governance and FB data privacy track record add to the concerns. Yet, taking the history of tech change and economic growth as guide, regulators should keep an open mind.
Bringing the Cryptovalley and the CVA to mainstreet in South Korea (July 2019)
Short interview with South Korea's TV Chosun about why Switzerland's Zug is the epicenter of the Cryptovalley and the origin / rationale of the Crypto Valley Association.