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Mr. Christophe J Waerzeggers, Mr. Irving Aw, and Ms. Jess Cheng
This Fintech Note specifically considers the challenges that tax law systems face to achieve neutrality in taxing transactions in one specific type of crypto asset: stablecoins. Stablecoins are a category of crypto assets that aim to maintain a stable value relative to a specified asset or to a pool of assets, such as sovereign currencies. In this way, they are designed to address the problem of volatility in the prices of crypto assets; price volatility generally makes these assets poor candidates to be a store of value and is one of the main impediments against their more widespread adoption as a means of payment. The prospect of a more widespread adoption of stablecoins warrants a closer look at their tax treatment and associated challenges.
Mr. Bas B. Bakker, Beatriz Garcia-Nunes, Weicheng Lian, Yang Liu, Camila Perez Marulanda, Adam Siddiq, Mariusz A. Sumlinski, Yuanchen Yang, and Dmitry Vasilyev
In the past decade, fintech has shaken up the financial sector in Latin America providing innovations in lending, payments, insurance, and regulation and compliance. This paper examines this development by focusing on both fintech services and regulation. Exploring fintech’s macro-critical impact using country- and bank-level data, we find that booming financial technologies in Latin America have helped boost competition in the banking sector and inclusion. Additionally, we demonstrate that fintech firms in Latin America experienced robust growth even during the pandemic supported by external funding. Finally, we discuss how regulators are addressing the risks associated with financial technologies and how they are leveraging fintech tools in their supervisory activities.
Mr. Tobias Adrian, Mr. Rodney Garratt, Mr. Dong He, and Mr. Tommaso Mancini Griffoli
Cross-border payments are expensive, slow, and opaque. These problems reflect multiple frictions, many of which boil down to limited trust among counterparties. Trust plays a central role in exchanging credit-based money. End users need to trust the issuers of money, and issuers must trust users to satisfy financial integrity requirements. Transactions are possible only where trust links exist. Interoperability between different forms of money can thus be conceptualized as the network of trusted links necessary for transactions. Traditionally, across borders, trust links involve exclusive bilateral credit relationships among correspondent banks. However, the fixed costs required to build these links foster an expensive and concentrated system. This paper interprets different payment arrangements in terms of the implied trust structures. It discusses how the tokenization of money alters trust links and allows for a potentially more efficient market structure to exchange money. The paper ends with a suggested global marketplace to trade tokenized money directly across borders.
Mrs. Sarwat Jahan, Ms. Elena Loukoianova, Mr. Evan Papageorgiou, Ms. Natasha X Che, Ankita Goel, Mike Li, Umang Rawat, and Yong Sarah Zhou
Drawing on survey responses from 34 Asian economies and country case studies, this note takes stock of recent developments related to central bank digital currencies (CBDCs) and crypto assets in Asia. The survey finds that there is significant heterogeneity in terms of stage of development, but the emergence of private crypto assets has created an impetus to consider CBDCs. While most countries are engaged in research and development, with some at advanced stages of testing and pilots, very few countries are likely to issue CBDCs in the near-to-medium term, reflecting the still considerable uncertainties. Still, country experiences so far provide some key insights for others in their journey in this area.
Parma Bains, Arif Ismail, Fabiana Melo, and Nobuyasu Sugimoto
Unbacked crypto assets are the oldest and most popular type of crypto assets, relying not on any backing asset for value but instead on supply and demand. They were originally developed to democratize payments but are mostly used for speculation. Crypto assets were designed to disintermediate financial services, but centralized entities, such as exchanges and wallet providers, offer key functions to users and sustain the necessity of trust in one or several entities. At present, many of these entities are not covered by existing conduct, prudential, or payment regulations and can generate risks to market integrity, market conduct, and potential financial stability. We recommend that global bodies work to develop common taxonomies that can inform global and cross-sectoral standards while improving data insights. Standards should be risk-based, with greater requirements on entities and activities that generate more risk. Crypto asset service providers that deliver core functions and generate key risks should be licensed, registered, or authorized.
Parma Bains, Arif Ismail, Fabiana Melo, and Nobuyasu Sugimoto
Stablecoins have experienced periods of rapid growth, accelerated links with traditional finance. Without proper regulation, contagion risks to wider financial sector will increase. Global regulation for stablecoins should be comprehensive, consistent, risk-based, flexible, and focus on their structural features and use. Requirements on stablecoins should cover the entire ecosystem and all its key functions, and there should be additional oversight for systemic stablecoin arrangements. In markets where risks are growing quickly, authorities should take immediate action by using all the tools at their disposal. This note provides key elements that should feature in any regulatory arrangement. For effective implementation, domestic and international collaboration are key.
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.