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IMF cautions against cryptocurrencies, here's why

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Cryptocurrencies and related assets offer a new world of opportunities: Quick and easy payments, innovative financial services, inclusive access to previously unbanked parts of the world. But along with the opportunities come challenges and risks, IMF said.

IMF cautions against cryptocurrencies, here's why
The rapid growth of the crypto ecosystem presents new opportunities, International Monetary Foundation (IMF) has said but also cautioned that the digital currency assets pose financial stability challenges.
Cryptocurrencies are digital or virtual currencies in which encryption techniques are used to regulate the generation of their units and verify the transfer of funds, operating independently of a central bank.
"The rapid growth of the crypto ecosystem presents new opportunities. Technological innovation is ushering in a new era that makes payments and other financial services cheaper, faster, more accessible, and allows them to flow across borders swiftly, " IMF said in its latest Global Financial Stability Report.
Crypto asset technologies have the potential as a tool for faster and cheaper cross-border payments. Bank deposits can be transformed into stable coins allow instant access to a vast array of financial products from digital platforms and allow instant currency conversion, said the IMF in its chapter titled The Crypto Ecosystem and Financial Stability Challenges.


Decentralised finance could become a platform for more innovative, inclusive, and transparent financial services, it said. Despite potential gains, the rapid growth and increasing adoption of crypto assets also pose financial stability challenges, it added.
In a recent interview with PTI, Tobias Adrian, the Financial Counsellor and Director of the Monetary and Capital Markets Department of IMF said Bitcoin could lead to instability because it is extremely volatile.
It was trading above 65,000 just about earlier this year, and then it came down to below 30,000. It might go back up, it might go back down. So if you're a merchant, and you're quoting in Bitcoin you're exposed to this massive volatility. It is much more volatile than equities or commodities or even exchange rates. It's a very, very volatile asset, and that is introducing instability, he said.
It's fine as an investment asset. But as a monetary aggregate, it just doesn't have the right properties, Adrian said.
The IMF in its report said challenges posed by the crypto ecosystem include operational and financial integrity risks from crypto asset providers, investor protection risks for crypto-assets and DeFi, and inadequate reserves and disclosure for some stable coins.


In emerging markets, the advent of crypto assets has benefits but can accelerate cryptoisation and circumvent exchange and capital control restrictions. Increased trading of crypto-assets in these economies could lead to destabilising capital flows, it said.
Policymakers should implement global standards for crypto-assets and enhance their ability to monitor the crypto ecosystem by addressing data gaps. As the role of stable coins grows, regulations should correspond to the risks they pose and the economic functions they perform. Emerging markets faced with cryptoisation risks should strengthen macroeconomic policies and consider the benefits of issuing central bank digital currencies, the report said.
In a joint blog post, three IMF officials Dimitris Drakopoulos, Fabio Natalucci, and Evan Papageorgiou wrote as crypto assets take hold, regulators need to step up.
Crypto-assets offer a new world of opportunities: Quick and easy payments. Innovative financial services. Inclusive access to previously unbanked parts of the world. All are made possible by the crypto ecosystem, they wrote. But along with the opportunities come challenges and risks, it added.


 
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