Earlier this month the World Bank released a new report addressing the link between payments and financial inclusion technologies such as blockchain.
The global fintech industry has seen remarkable growth over the last few years driven by the increasing demand for mobile banking applications. Financial institutions are increasingly integrating various technologies such as blockchain and AI into financial services to make them faster, safer, and more efficient.
In the new report, the World Bank has emphasized the importance of blockchain in enabling financial inclusion. It provides a detailed overview of selected technology innovations that are considered critical for use in payments while highlighting the associated risks and benefits. This also includes crypto blockchain-related concepts such as central bank digital currencies (CBDC) and stablecoins.
On the role of blockchain in payments, the report says that the technology “may further spur business model innovation in cross-border payments”. It also notes that blockchain has the potential to streamline cross-border payments but only with permissions (or private) networks.
The banking sector, for instance, can benefit from blockchain in many ways including instant settlements, increased transparency, and secure transactions. This is visible in various forms, from retail stores accepting payment in digital currencies, to new forms of customer identification for retail transactions, and large banks optimizing global liquidity.
The World Bank also highlighted the role stablecoins have played in speeding up the growth of CBDCs. For example, the Facebook Libra project pushed some jurisdiction ns to accelerate CBDC investigations to fix major issues of cross-border payments. A stablecoin is a form of digital currency that combines the best of both cryptocurrencies and fiat currencies – operating in a trust-minimized fashion.
For everyday use, stablecoins represent a new form of money that is convenient to use, especially among merchants and customers. CBDC, on the other hand, is a new type of digital money that central banks around the world are exploring to compete with stablecoins. However, the World Bank report emphasizes that there’s
no global retail stablecoin project or CBDC live network that is currently operational. Extension of PAFI 2016 Report
World Bank listed distributed ledger technology (DLT), stablecoins, CBDCs, and payment systems alongside big data analytics and cloud computing.
In 2017, the World Bank issued an extensive blockchain report providing insights into how distributed ledger technologies can be applied to enable financial inclusion. The report also noted that implementation of that magnitude would require not only interoperability with traditional payment services but also effective oversight.