After attending my first Money 20/20 conference I came away with an insightful experience filled with thought-provoking discussions on the future of finance. Over four jam-packed days, I captured notes from 16 sessions covering a wide swath of topics that are sure to (re)shape financial services.
Most bankers associate the term “tokenization” with data security and authentication routines used to prevent system intrusions. Apart from a handful of innovators, few institutions have focused on tokenization – the process of creating a digital representation of any item of value.
The Consensus 2023 conference was a fruitful experience for those hungry to know more about emerging digital asset trends. Over 15,000 people from various industries attended the CoinDesk-hosted event in Austin, Texas. Well-known and admired companies, including PayPal, Pepsi, Franklin Templeton, and Mastercard, were on site to share stories about their blockchain-related projects.
The Federal Reserve, the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. (FDIC), and the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC) recently issued a joint statement that expressed the agencies’ concerns with banks that have business dealings tied to digital assets, including cryptocurrency.
Professionals focused on the strategic and operational aspects of digital assets such as cryptocurrency have learned to disregard the media cycles.
Last year’s breathless hype – driven almost entirely by a retail investor frenzy – has given way to a “crypto is dead” storyline that emphasizes volatility and fraudulent applications. Lost in the noise is the fact that Bitcoin’s price has been relatively stable over the past four months.
Federal regulators continue to advise on how banks and credit unions conduct due diligence for digital assets solution providers.
A lapse in vetting could expose FIs to an array of risks, ranging from reputational impact to non-compliance with government sanctions and BSA requirements.
We're beginning to get some clarity from the White House regarding its approach to digital assets, including the potential development of a Central Bank Digital Currency (CBDC).
With the release of a wide-ranging report, the White House appears to be embracing digital assets and their potential for transparent, cost-efficient, and inclusive financial services. A background press call provided even more insight into the Biden Administration's thinking.
The Biden Administration's March executive order seeking information on digital assets' usage and security set a flurry of activity into motion. This included a mandate for the Treasury Department to deliver a report on the future of money and payments systems. The agency issued a public request for comment in July, and SRM quickly responded, drawing from our detailed and ongoing coverage of cryptocurrency and other digital assets.
You can read our complete submission here; however, the condensed version below highlights the key points we believe every financial institution should consider as policies toward digital assets take shape.
The Biden Administration’s Executive Order for digital assets observed that one in six adult Americans are involved with cryptocurrency, while other surveys place this figure closer to one in three. At the same time, a solid majority of Americans indicate they’d prefer to conduct crypto dealings through their financial institution.
This seems like a dream scenario for banks and credit unions looking for opportunities to deepen client relationships and pursue new sources of fee income to replace the overdraft/NSF revenue and interchange that is increasingly under threat.
Standing-room-only crowds during breakout sessions at recent industry conferences nationwide are a strong indicator of financial institutions’ growing interest in cryptocurrency and other digital assets.