Technology plays an increasingly important role in financial services. With the pace of technological inno-vation moving ever faster, the role new technology plays in the provision of financial services is becoming increasingly fundamental. New technology can generate efficiencies for firms, lowering costs that can be passed on to end users. It can increase access to financial services and products for consumers, particularly the most vulnerable; however, new technology can also create new risks and unintended consequences that can harm financial stability, consumer protection, and market integrity. This primer is designed for financial supervisors at central banks, regulatory authorities, and government departments. It adds to existing literature by summarizing key aspects of popular consensus mechanisms at a high level, with a specific focus on how such mechanisms may impact the mandates of supervisors and policymakers when deployed in financial services markets. It could also help inform IMF staff on policy development and technical assistance related to crypto assets, stablecoins, and blockchains.
José Garrido, Ms. Yan Liu, Joseph Sommer, and Juan Sebastián Viancha
This note explores the interactions between new technologies with key areas of commercial law and potential legal changes to respond to new developments in technology and businesses. Inspired by the Bali Fintech Agenda, this note argues that country authorities need to closely examine the adequacy of their legal frameworks to accommodate the use of new technologies and implement necessary legal reform so as to reap the benefits of fintech while mitigating risks. Given the cross-border nature of new technologies, international cooperation among all relevant stakeholders is critical. The note is structured as follows: Section II describes the relations between technology, business, and law, Section III discusses the nature and functions of commercial law; Section IV provides a brief overview of developments in fintech; Section V examines the interaction between technology and commercial law; and Section VI concludes with a preliminary agenda for legal reform to accommodate the use of new technologies.
Mr. Itai Agur, Jose Deodoro, Xavier Lavayssière, Soledad Martinez Peria, Mr. Damiano Sandri, Hervé Tourpe, and Mr. German Villegas Bauer
Whether in crypto assets or in CBDCs, design choices can make an important difference to the energy consumption of digital currencies. This paper establishes the main components and technological options that determine the energy profile of digital currencies. It draws on academic and industry estimates to compare digital currencies to each other and to existing payment systems and derives implications for the design of environmentally friendly CBDCs. For distributed ledger technologies, the key factors affecting energy consumption are the ability to control participation and the consensus algorithm. While crypto assets like Bitcoin are wasteful in terms of resources, other designs could be more energy efficient than existing payment systems.
Mr. Dong He, Annamaria Kokenyne, Xavier Lavayssière, Ms. Inutu Lukonga, Nadine Schwarz, Nobuyasu Sugimoto, and Jeanne Verrier
Capital flow management measures (CFMs) can be part of the broader policy toolkit to help countries reap the benefits of capital flows while managing the associated risks. Their implementation typically requires that financial intermediaries verify the nature of transactions and the identities of transacting parties but is facing the rising challenge of crypto assets. Indeed, crypto assets have become a significant instrument for payments and speculative investments in some countries. They can be traded pseudonymously and held without identification of the residency of the asset holder. Many crypto service providers operate across borders, making supervision and enforcement by national authorities more difficult. The challenges posed by the attributes of crypto assets are compounded by gaps in the legal and regulatory frameworks. This paper aims to discuss how crypto assets could impact the effectiveness of CFMs from a structural and longer-term perspective. To preserve the effectiveness of CFMs against crypto-related challenges, policymakers need to consider a multifaceted strategy whose essential elements include clarifying the legal status of crypto assets and ensuring that CFM laws and regulations cover them; devising a comprehensive, consistent, and coordinated regulatory approach to crypto assets and applying it effectively to CFMs; establishing international collaborative arrangements for supervision of crypto assets; addressing data gaps and leveraging technology (regtech and suptech) to create anomaly-detection models and red-flag indicators that will allow for timely risk monitoring and CFM implementation.
Nadine Schwarz, Ms. Ke Chen, Ms. Kristel Poh, Ms. Grace Jackson, Kathleen Kao, and Maksym Markevych
The purpose of this note is to assist countries in their understanding and mitigation of the money laundering (ML), terror financing (TF), and financing of the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction (PF) risks related to virtual assets (VAs). This is the first of two Fintech Notes dedicated to VAs and anti-money laundering and combating the financing of terrorism (AML/CFT). This first note is broad in scope. It explains why VAs are vulnerable for misuse for ML/TF/PF purposes and clarifies which assets and service providers should be subject to AML/CFT measures. It discusses the measures that all countries should take, and the type of action necessary in instances of criminal misuse of VA. A second Fintech note focuses on the AML/CFT regulatory and supervisory framework for virtual asset service providers (VASPs). Both notes are based on Financial Action Task Force (FATF) standards and draw heavily on the FATF’s 2019 “Guidance for a Risk-Based Approach to Virtual Assets and Virtual Asset Service Providers.” They aim at providing policy makers and authorities with AML/CFT responsibilities with an overview of the legal and operational considerations that the implementation of a sound AML/CFT framework for VAs and VASPs raises. In some instances, the notes make reference to specific types of VAs, VASPs, and related products. These references are made for illustrative purposes only, and do not constitute an endorsement of the specific VAs, VASPs, and related products. Finally, at the time of drafting, no country had been assessed against the new standards and many country authorities were in the process of establishing how best to incorporate the new standards in their AML/CFT framework. For these reasons, this note does not refer to specific country examples.