Singapore’s Central Bank Chief Predicts Exit of Private Cryptocurrencies

Singapore’s central bank head, Ravi Menon, foresees the eventual departure of private cryptocurrencies from the monetary landscape due to their failure to meet fundamental financial standards. At a Hong Kong event hosted by the Hong Kong Monetary Authority and Bank for International Settlements, Menon asserted that private digital coins have floundered as a reliable store of value, emphasising their inadequacy as a medium for safeguarding life savings.

Menon outlined a future monetary framework anchored by three pivotal elements: central bank digital currencies, tokenised bank liabilities, and well-regulated stablecoins. He highlighted the resilience and potential of stablecoins backed by high-quality government securities or cash, positioning them as a viable form of ‘narrow money’ for various innovative applications. In contrast to private cryptocurrencies, Menon anticipates the ascension of these regulated stablecoins alongside central bank digital currencies.

In a parallel discourse, M. Rajeshwar Rao, a deputy governor at the Reserve Bank of India, echoed the significance of central bank digital currencies, underscoring the need for addressing user needs, data privacy, cybersecurity, and operational resilience to establish trust akin to physical currency. Rao also envisioned expanding the central bank digital currency scope to encompass interbank money market transactions, emphasising the necessity for multilateral implementation in the future.

Simultaneously, the Financial Stability Board (FSB) raised concerns about potential disruptions stemming from complex crypto firms such as FTX within the broader financial system. Noting similarities to vulnerabilities found in traditional finance, the FSB highlighted issues like leverage, liquidity mismatches, and operational vulnerabilities prevalent in these multifunctional crypto firms, amplifying risks due to inadequate controls, operational transparency, and disclosures.

The FSB acknowledged that current evidence suggests a limited threat to wider financial stability and the economy. However, it stressed the need for enhanced supervisory measures and cross-border cooperation to mitigate risks from crypto activities being magnified across the financial spectrum. The FSB, along with the International Organisation of Securities Commissions (IOSCO), had earlier issued recommendations to regulate crypto activities, emphasising the necessity for continual assessment and further actions to curtail potential systemic risks.

The evolving landscape of monetary systems, as predicted by Menon and echoed by Rao, signals a shift towards centrally regulated and stable digital currencies. This trajectory, while acknowledging the potential benefits of innovation, highlights the imperative need for robust regulatory frameworks to safeguard against systemic risks, as underscored by the FSB. The delicate balance between innovation and stability remains at the forefront of discussions surrounding the future of monetary systems.

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