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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.
Gabriel Soderberg, Ms. Marianne Bechara, Wouter Bossu, Ms. Natasha X Che, Sonja Davidovic, Mr. John Kiff, Ms. Inutu Lukonga, Mr. Tommaso Mancini Griffoli, Tao Sun, and Akihiro Yoshinaga
Central banks are increasingly pondering whether to issue their own digital currencies to the general public, so-called retail central bank digital currency (CBDC). The majority of IMF member countries are actively evaluating CBDCs, with only a few having issued CBDCs or undertaken extensive pilots or tests. This paper shines the spotlight on the handful of countries at the frontier in the hope of identifying and sharing insights, lessons, and open questions for the benefit of the many countries following in their footsteps. Clearly, what can be gleaned from these experiences does not necessarily apply elsewhere. The sample of countries remains small and country circumstances differ widely. However, the insights in this paper may inspire further investigation and allow countries to gain time by building on the experience of others. Importantly, the purpose of this paper is not to evaluate the courses taken by different jurisdictions, but to study and discuss their key experiences and lessons. The paper studies six advanced CBDC projects, drawing on collaboration and exchanges with the respective central banks to get insights beyond what has previously been published. Unless a specific published source is cited, all information stems from interviews and workshops with members of CBDC project teams in each jurisdiction.
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.
Parma Bains
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.
Parma Bains, Nobuyasu Sugimoto, and Christopher Wilson
BigTech firms are gradually entering the financial sector and becoming important service providers, particularly in emerging markets. BigTechs have entered financial services using platform-based technology to facilitate payments and more recently expanded into other areas, such as lending, asset management, and insurance services. They accumulate data from their nonfinancial and financial activities and draw on consumer data held in different parts of their business (such as via social media). BigTechs are applying new approaches to existing financial services products and services such as underwriting using big data and are also applying machine learning for their key business decisions, such as pricing and risk management across multiple financial sectors. Incumbent financial firms have also increased their reliance on BigTech firms to host core IT systems (for example, cloud-based services, which have the potential to improve efficiency and security). This rapid and significant expansion of BigTechs in financial services and their interconnectedness with financial service firms are potentially creating new channels of systemic risks. To achieve effective implementation and multiple objectives of financial regulation and supervision, a hybrid approach, combining a mix of entity- and activity-based approaches, is needed.
Nadine Schwarz, Ms. Ke Chen, Ms. Kristel Poh, Ms. Grace Jackson, Kathleen Kao, Ms. Francisca Fernando, 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.
Nadine Schwarz, Ms. Kristel Poh, Ms. Ke Chen, Ms. Grace Jackson, Kathleen Kao, Ms. Francisca Fernando, and Maksym Markevych
The purpose of this note is to discuss the necessary anti-money laundering and combating the financing of terrorism (AML/CFT) measures and provide examples of practical solutions to implement them. In June 2020, the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) noted that both the public and private sectors have made progress in the implementation of the standards for virtual assets (VA), in particular through updates to national laws and the development of solutions to assist with the travel rule. However, challenges remain; many virtual asset service providers (VASPs) are only beginning to adopt the required AML/CFT measures, a number of jurisdictions are yet to implement the standards for VA and those that have are at the early stages of developing a supervisory regime for VASPs. 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. References to specific products and projects are made for illustrative purposes only and do not constitute an endorsement of these initiatives. This Fintech Note is based on the FATF standards and guidance, in particular those aspects that pertain to VA and VASPs.
Ms. Marianne Bechara, Wouter Bossu, Ms. Yan Liu, and Arthur Rossi
Fintech presents unique opportunities for central banks. The rapid changes in technology that are transforming the financial system will allow central banks to enhance the execution of various of their core functions, such as currency issuance and payment systems. But some aspects of fintech pose major challenges. Central banks have always been at the cutting edge of financial technology and innovation. In the past, the invention of the banknote, the processing of payments through debits and credits in book-entry accounts, and the successive transitions of interbank payment systems from the telegraph to internet protocols were all transformative innovations. Today, central banks are facing new and unprecedented challenges: distributed ledger technology, new data analytics (artificial intelligence [AI] and machine learning), and cloud computing, along with a wider spread of mobile access and increased internet speed and bandwidth. The purpose of this note is to discuss the authors’ preliminary views on how, from a legal perspective, central banks can best deal with the impact of fintech on their governance. These preliminary views are based on a review of central banks’ reaction thus far to the challenges posed by fintech to the legal foundations of their governance.
Mr. Ghiath Shabsigh, Mr. Tanai Khiaonarong, and Mr. Harry Leinonen
Major transformations in payment and settlements have occurred in generations. The first generation was paper-based. Delivery times for payment instruments took several days domestically and weeks internationally. The second generation involved computerization with batch processing. Links between payment systems were made through manual or file-based interfaces. The change-over period between technologies was long and still some paper-based instruments like checks and cash remain in use. The third generation, which has been emerging, involves electronic and mobile payment schemes that enable integrated, immediate, and end-to-end payment and settlement transfers. For example, real-time gross settlement systems have been available in almost all countries. DLT has been viewed as a potential platform for the next generation of payment systems, enhancing the integration and the reconciliation of settlement accounts and their ledgers. So far, experiments with DLT experimentations point to the potential for financial infrastructures to move towards real-time settlement, flatter structures, continuous operations, and global reach. Testing in large-value payments and securities settlement systems have partly demonstrated the technical feasibility of DLT for this new environment. The projects examined analyzed issues associated with operational capacity, resiliency, liquidity savings, settlement finality, and privacy. DLT-based solutions can also facilitate delivery versus payment of securities, payment versus payment of foreign exchange transactions, and efficient cross-border payments.