In a panel moderated by Julia Streets, Jennifer Peve joined industry peers, including Philippe Benoit, BNP Paribas Securities Services, Mike Demissie, BNY Mellon and Mark Smith, Symbiont.io, during Sibos 2021 to discuss the risks, obstacles and future of digital assets.
Here, Peve shares insights from the panel discussion.
Market dynamics and technology advances are accelerating the pace of change across financial services. At the same time, client expectations and regulatory priorities are continuing to evolve as firms face ongoing cost pressures and new compliance mandates. As a result, many companies are focused on leveraging proven technologies and existing business models to address today’s top operational challenges while experimenting with emerging technologies to transform how markets operate in the future. This is an exciting time for our industry as stablecoins, cryptocurrencies, NFTs and the digitization of financial assets create a unique opportunity to build a true digital marketplace.
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Advancements across the globe are driving the development of new assets with a focus on safety, security and resilience. Digital assets can solve real-world challenges because their value lies in the trusted sharing of data, automating event management and creating an immutable data layer. For all these benefits, however, I agree with Philippe Benoit’s point that their success will largely rest on transforming legacy infrastructure to support broad adoption.
The challenge will be ensuring a level playing field when it comes to technology adoption. Not all clients have the same technological capabilities. You have to be careful about creating a situation where a client can be disadvantaged by a new solution you’re bringing to market. We spend a lot time talking to clients about new and innovative solutions so we can ensure that we have the right approach for moving forward and bringing the industry along versus trying to foster something.
Supporting Financial Inclusion
From a societal lens, all of us on the panel recognize that digital markets can play a critical role in advancing financial inclusion – a priority that we all share. Fintech and digitization have the potential to remove barriers that limit the availability of basic banking services in many underserved areas. However, for all the good this will achieve, we also have to be aware of how it can create new and unexpected risks for the market and investors.
Time, coordination, and an incremental approach are needed when adopting digital assets and DLT networks to avoid the introduction of new risks.
While the benefits of increasing financial inclusion are too important not to proceed, Mike Demissie made a good observation that policymakers will need to work collaboratively with the industry to strengthen existing rules or create new ones to safeguard the investing public and protect the financial system. It will be essential to find this delicate balance to maintain and encourage an environment of innovation.
Adoption of digital assets varies widely by country as some nations are moving faster than others to embrace them. As Mark Smith noted, the Chinese government has outlawed cryptocurrencies, including bitcoin, while at the same time moving aggressively to launch a digital yuan in the coming months. On the other end of the spectrum, El Salvador has made bitcoin legal tender. The United States has been more deliberative in its approach, reflecting the maturity of our regulatory regime and that our markets are considered the most trusted globally.
As policymakers sort out these and other related issues, there will likely be an opportunity to apply time-tested governance models to these emerging markets. In addition, time, coordination and an incremental approach are needed when adopting digital assets and DLT networks to avoid the introduction of new risks. Although a careful approach is warranted, innovation can still exist through the broader use of APIs, optionality and by bringing together legacy and digital securities. This won’t happen overnight, but there are ways to build and gain regulatory confidence in newer technologies and consider how they connect to legacy infrastructures. Collaboration with our clients, regulators and others will remain a key ingredient to the industry’s success.