CaixaBank has co-developed a prototype for a personal payments wallet using the digital euro
CaixaBank helped European Central Bank to develop a prototype within an experimental exercise to make immediate payments between
“Regulation, supervision of crypto-assets as well as stablecoins is an absolute necessity (…) MiCA will be a reality for economic players in, I hope, two years or a little less than two years.” – says Christine Lagarde, president of the European Central Bank in a monetary dialogue with Committee on Economic and Monetary Affairs (28 November 2022)
„This year, the FSB will finalise its recommendations for the regulation, supervision and oversight of crypto-assets and markets and its recommendations targeted at global stablecoin arrangements (…) many existing stablecoins would not currently meet these high-level recommendations.” – wrote Financial Stability Board chair Klaas Knot in a letter to G20 finance ministers (20 February 2023).
Many senior voices in the banking industry, especially central bankers, have been arguing for years that the crypto space needs to be regulated. Finally, it looks like the time has come to do so. 2023 will be the year that crypto markets will have dedicated regulation, on both sides of the Atlantic.
As a new first on the Romanian market, discussions and analysis will be provided by members of the European Commission, representatives of relevant crypto trading platforms, custodian entities, law firms, cyber security companies, financial institutions, supervisory entities, renowned investors and developers in the crypto space (both local and international), dedicated investment funds. All together under one roof to ensure a more accurate picture of what the future holds for the crypto-asset industry.
In 2022, the contagion from Terra/LUNA, Three Arrows Capital, Celsius, and FTX/Alameda wiped out ~$1.5 Trillion in crypto market capitalization. This could have been prevented and avoided by proper regulation.
In October 2022, the European Council finally settled the approved text for the Markets in Crypto-Assets (MiCA) Regulation, making it one of the first attempts at regulating cryptocurrency markets. This means that crypto-assets, crypto-assets issuers, and crypto-asset service providers (CASPs) will be brought under a regulatory framework for the first time.
The EU aims to use MiCA to become an attractive place for crypto-asset service providers (CASPs) to do business globally, while preventing market abuse and protecting consumers from fraud, money laundering, terrorist financing, and other criminal activities.
While it’s not expected to come into force until early 2024, MiCA aims to protect consumers and investors, and increase financial stability within the market, while at the same time not hampering innovation within the crypto and Web3 space. More details here.
The European Parliament and European Council have reached a provisional agreement on a first draft of the long-awaited Markets in Crypto Assets (MiCA) regulation. MiCA is expected to have a huge impact on providers of crypto asset services in the European Union (EU) – as well as providers based outside the EU – and financial institutions due to the opportunities it will create for banks, investment firms and insurance companies. Parties will have to comply with certain legal obligations and may need a licence.
MiCA is part of the ‘EU digital finance package’ that aims to support the future potential of digital finance in terms of innovation and competition while mitigating the risks entailed. It will apply to crypto assets that are not currently regulated by existing financial services legislation, such as the Markets in Financial Instruments Directive (MiFID).
Although Proof-of-Work cryptocurrencies (PoW) – such as ‘Bitcoin’ – are notorious for their huge energy consumption, MiCA is not issuing a ban on crypto currencies that use the PoW algorithm. Instead, it instructs the European Commission to prepare a report on the environmental impact of crypto assets and to introduce a mandatory minimum sustainability standard for such consensus mechanisms as PoW.
Non fungible tokens (NFTs: digital objects held by an internet user) will be exempt from MiCA. However, a reclassification for NFTs is always possible if they qualify as a financial instrument or a crypto-asset.
Decentralised financing (DeFi) and crypto lending are not (yet) addressed in MiCA. A report with possible new legislative proposals will be submitted no later than 18 months after the entry into force of the regulation.
Now that the main aspects of MiCA have been agreed, the regulation still needs to be finally approved by the Commission and the European Parliament.
MiCA will come into effect 18 months after the approval date – likely early 2023. The revised texts will therefore not apply before 2024. Until then, crypto service providers have the opportunity to prepare for this new crypto legislation. More details here
At the beginning of 2023, 114 countries, representing over 95 percent of global GDP, are exploring a Central Bank Digital Currency, according to Atlantic Council – CBDC Tracker. In May 2020, only 35 countries were considering a CBDC. A new high of 60 countries are in an advanced phase of exploration (development, pilot, or launch).
11 countries have fully launched a digital currency, and China’s pilot, which reaches 260 million people, is set to expand to most of the country in 2023. Jamaica is the latest country to launch its CBDC, the JAM-DEX.
Financial sanctions on Russia have led countries to consider payment systems that avoid the dollar. There are now 9 cross-border wholesale CBDC tests and 7 cross-border retail projects, nearly double the number from 2021.
As of December 2022, all G7 economies have now moved into the development stage of a CBDC. The New York Federal Reserve’s wholesale CBDC experiment, Project Cedar, has shifted the US from research into development.
18 of the G20 countries are now in the advanced stage of CBDC development. Of those, 7 countries are already in pilot. Nearly every G20 country has made significant progress and invested new resources in these projects over the past six months.
In 2023, over 20 countries will take significant steps towards piloting a CBDC. Australia, Thailand, Brazil, India, South Korea and Russia intend to continue or begin pilot testing in 2023. The ECB is also likely to start a pilot next year.
In 2023, the Bank for International Settlements Innovation Hub will increase its focus on improving payment systems and experimenting with central bank digital currencies (CBDC). This year’s work program also includes Project Pyxtrial, a new experiment being launched by the Hub’s London Centre to enable the systemic monitoring of stablecoins.
Building on the knowledge gained from wholesale CBDC projects (eg Helvetia), the Hub is now experimenting more with retail CBDCs, for example, on the technology architecture of a two-tiered distribution model (Aurum); on the distribution of retail CBDC through an open API ecosystem (Rosalind); and examining cyber security (Polaris, Sela), resilience (Polaris) and scalability and privacy (Tourbillon).
Ongoing experiments are also showing how wholesale and retail CBDCs (Icebreaker), as well as the interconnection of domestic payments systems (Nexus) can deliver faster, cheaper and more transparent cross-border payments. Three multi-CBDC experiments (Jura, Dunbar, mBridge) have demonstrated that common platforms with various digital currencies are technically feasible and offer benefits such as lower cost, faster settlement, and operational transparency. Automated market-makers for foreign exchange using CBDCs are also being explored (Mariana).
Other improvements in payments are being explored with a focus on payment synchronisation (Meridian), on a data-driven approach to combatting money laundering across firms and across borders (Aurora), and novel liquidity saving mechanisms (Titus).
Another area of focus is on projects aiming to shape the future of regulation, supervision and finance. For example, the development of tools for monitoring financial markets in real time (Rio and Samba), cryptocurrencies and decentralised finance (Atlas) and other regulatory purposes (Ellipse). Technological innovation in corporate digital identity has been examined while specific use cases for the supervision of financing for small and medium-sized enterprises (Dynamo) are being explored.
CBDCs and improvements in payments systems continue to be a key area of exploration, accounting for 15 of the 26 projects that were active in in the last couple of years. This emphasis reflects the interests and priorities of central banks and the G20 countries’ programme to improve cross-border payments.
More about BIS Innovation Hub projects
Decentralized Finance (DeFi) is a new financial paradigm that leverages distributed ledger technologies to offer services such as lending, investing, or exchanging crypto-assets without relying on a traditional centralized intermediary. A range of DeFi protocols implements these services as a suite of smart contracts, ie software programs that encode the logic of conventional financial operations. Instead of transacting with a counterparty, DeFi users thus interact with software programs that pool the resources of other DeFi users to maintain control over their funds.
Interest in DeFi rose sharply in 2020 and, during its peak in 2021, reached a total value locked (TVL) of more than 150 billion USD, according to Bank for International Settlements.
It is still unclear if and to what extent DeFi will proliferate in the future. Today even most cryptocurrency trading happens off-chain on centralized crypto exchanges, which does not constitute DeFi. 2022 episodes of market turmoil have led to a discussion on whether and how DeFi industry should be regulated.
Meanwhile, Statista reveals that Decentralized Finance users have grown by 300,000 since early 2022, less than half the increase during the same period in 2021. This according to a network crawling code that tries to measure the number of unique user addresses involved in buying or selling specific projects associated with DeFi.
As Decentralized Finance – much like cryptocurrencies or NFTs – are not being tracked by an official government, these procedures to measure “network activity” – activity on the Ethereum blockchain/network, the most used blockchain for DeFi, or elsewhere – tend to be the only source of information on the market size of these topics. However, the source does acknowledge the numbers shown are not without their potential flaws.
Number of unique addresses that either bought or sold a Decentralized Finance (DeFi) asset worldwide
2022 was the biggest year ever for crypto hacking, with $3.8 billion stolen from cryptocurrency businesses, according to a new report from Chainalysis.
DeFi protocols as victims accounted for 82.1% of all cryptocurrency stolen by hackers — a total of $3.1 billion — up from 73.3% in 2021. And of that $3.1 billion, 64% came from cross-chain bridge protocols specifically. Cross-chain bridges are protocols that let users port their cryptocurrency from one blockchain to another, usually by locking the user’s assets into a smart contract on the original chain, and then minting equivalent assets on the second chain. Bridges are an attractive target for hackers because the smart contracts in effect become huge, centralized repositories of funds backing the assets that have been bridged to the new chain — a more desirable honeypot could scarcely be imagined. If a bridge gets big enough, any error in its underlying smart contract code or other potential weak spot is almost sure to eventually be found and exploited by bad actors.
Come to Banking 4.0 to find out how do we make DeFi safer.
One of the pandemic effects was the explosion of the crypto owners worldwide. The first edition of ‘Measuring Global Crypto Users’, which was released in May 2020, estimating the number of global crypto owners at more than 66 million.
In the second half of 2020, market accelerated adoption, which resulted from several remarkable events like PayPal introducing crypto purchases to U.S. users in November. Crypto adoption accelerated further in 2021. Heavyweight institutions, such as Tesla and Mastercard, took steps to embrace cryptocurrency. In March, Visa collaborated with Crypto.com to settle payments in crypto. Furthermore, El Salvador became the world’s first country to adopt Bitcoin as legal tender.
As a result, it only took four months to double the global crypto population from 100 million to 200 million. By comparison, it took nine months to reach 100 million from 65 million since crypto.com began tracking these numbers.
In fact, 2021 was an exceptional year for adoption. The global cryptocurrency users increased from 106 million in January 2021 to 295 million in December 2021, according to Research and Markets.
Market research firm GWI suggests that as much as 10.2% of global internet users aged 16 to 64 own crypto, with most ownership skewed toward nations experiencing high inflation or fluctuation in the value of their national fiat. GWI reports that more than 1 in 10 working-age internet users now owns some form of cryptocurrency, with that figure rising to more than 2 in 10 in Thailand.
Cryptocurrencies are particularly popular across developing economies, especially in countries where conventional currencies are more prone to big fluctuations in exchange rates – like Thailand or Turkey. Also, fewer than 1 in 20 internet users aged 55 to 64 owns any cryptocurrency today, and this finding may have important implications for policy makers exploring the potential for digital currencies.
Despite numerous scandals and major bankruptcies in the crypto market in 2022, cryptocurrency adoption continues to grow worldwide. As of 2023, Singapore-based blockchain firm TripleA estimated global crypto ownership rates at an average of 4.2%, with over 420 million crypto users worldwide. The company estimates that at the end of 2022, Romania has a cryptocurrency ownership rate of 1.6% (nearly 311,000 cryptocurrency holders in a population of 19 million inhabitants).
The top 5 countries with the best adoption are USA (46 million), India (27 million), Pakistan (26 million), Nigeria (22 million) and Vietnam (20 million). Interestingly, over 70% of cryptocurrency owners are under the age of 34 and hold a bachelor’s degree or higher.
According Crypto Market Sizing Report, Global crypto owners reached 425 million by the end of 2022. Bitcoin (BTC) owners grew by 20% from 183 million in January to 219 million in December, accounting for 52% of global owners. Ethereum (ETH) owners grew by 263% from 24 million in January to 87 million in December, accounting for 20% of global owners.
There are some solid arguments that recommend Romania as a very good place to invest when thinking about crypto and digital assets.
First of all, Romanians rank in the top 10 European countries in terms of adoption.
According to a regional iSense Solution research, conducted in May 2022, 22% of the Romanian online population between the ages of 18 and 65 (a total of 5 million) have invested in cryptocurrencies. That means 1,1 million Romanians has bought crypto at a given time.
On average, the amount invested is 429 euros. The main two cryptocurrencies bought are bitcoin and ethereum, while Revolut is the most preferred channel for purchase. Interestingly, the cryptocurrency developed by the Romanians from Elrond (EGLD) is also in the Top 10. According to the study, over 100,000 Romanians bought EGLD.
Second, we have probably the largest infrastructure network in Europe that enables the purchase of crypto/digital assets. Thus, SelfPay – the leader of the local market of self-service Payment Stations, launched in May 2022 the service to top up the crypto trading accounts owned by Tradesilvania.com customers.
Thanks to the partnership concluded between the two companies, users of the Tradesilvania – a premium investment platform in digital assets with 100% Romanian ownership – can instantly top up their trading accounts at any of the more than 9,000 SelfPay Payment Stations in Romania.
SelfPay Payment Stations are located in large modern retail networks, in shopping centers, markets, gas stations, convenience stores, in the offices of partner financial institutions, but also in town halls and other public institutions.
Third, we have great developers and innovative IT companies with global impact. Here are just a few examples that speak about Romania’s competences in the IT field.
The international hub for innovation and strategic projects in IT, within the Edenred group, is in Bucharest. This hub – Edenred Digital Center – responds to the accelerated digitization needs of the Edenred group, and develops solutions for online transactions, such as mobile digital payment applications, for Edenred subsidiaries around the world. The solutions and applications developed in the Bucharest IT center are thus used by tens of millions of Edenred beneficiaries.
Bitdefender, a global leader in cyber security, is a private Romanian company protecting millions of consumer and business environments since 2001. The company has over 20,000 qualified partners and resellers distributed through partners in 170 countries. Bitdefender has been issued 440 patents for core technologies (including machine-learning algorithms to detect malware and other threats and anomaly-based detection techniques vital to detect and prevent new and unknown threats). In 2022, Bitdefender launches multi-year Formula One partnership with Scuderia Ferrari.
With five Product of The Year Awards in 10 years, Bitdefender racking up more wins than any other vendor in the past decade.
Binance, the world’s leading cryptocurrency and blockchain infrastructure provider, opened a technology hub in Iasi in September 2022. On this occasion, the Binance team led by Changpeng Zhao, the company’s founder and CEO, had a meeting with the Romanian Government.
Here is what he declared then: „We discussed the need to regulate cryptocurrencies, the MiCA regulation, an instrument expected by all EU states to provide a unitary framework, but also the skills of Romanians in the IT field, recognized worldwide (…) Romania is already a treasure trove of IT professionals and a hub for many tech giants.”
Romania is the second European country where Binance allows transactions in the local currency. The company recently announced that it plans, until the end of 2023, new hires in the technology hub in Iași.
Fourth, Romania has already a global success story in the blockchain & crypto space: MetaversX (formerly Elrond), which defines itself as “the most impactful Metaverse ecosystem in the world” and “one of the most compelling public blockchain architectures”.
MetaversX is a scalable smart contract platform for decentralized applications and enterprise use cases, with its native cryptocurrency EGLD powering the ecosystem.
Launched in 30th of July, 2020 – by a group of Romanian entrepreneurs and engineers coming from big tech companies – MultiversX is the first highly scalable public blockchain that uses the newly proposed Secure Proof of Stake algorithm in a genuine state-sharded architecture to achieve VISA level throughput and confirmation times of seconds.
Since its launch, MetaversX evolved into an ambitious ecosystem aiming to tap into the European payments market with its crypto solutions alongside nurturing its DeFi ecosystem.
So far, the new architecture attracted a super passionate community of validators, builders, and users that now total 3200 validator nodes and 1.75 million accounts. One of the great catalysts for adoption was the launch of our flagship mobile app, Maiar, which is now counting over 1 million users.
The live price of Elrond (EGLD) is above 50 USD (at the time of publication of this text), and with the current circulating supply of Elrond at 25,015,058 EGLD, its market capitalization stands at 1,3 billion USD. The current valuation of EGLD puts it at #46 in cryptocurrency rankings based on market capitalization. EGLD hit an all-time high over $540 on November 22, 2021.
Taking into account all this, it is not at all surprising that the share of the IT sector in Romania’s GDP was over 7% in 2022 and is estimated to reach 10% in 2025. Another solid argument for considering Romania as an investment target.
Sebastian Burduja – Minister of the MINISTRY OF RESEARCH, INNOVATION AND DIGITALIZATION is talking to Andrei Burz-Pinzaru, Partner Deloitte Legal Romania
“Regulation is the way to mass adoption”
Elizaveta Palaznic – independent MiCA expert
Ludmila Andreeva-Paskov – Policy Officer: Digital Finance Unit – European Commission Directorate General for Financial Stability (online)
Raluca Micu – Head of Payments Oversight Division at National Bank of Romania
ASF – Tudor Doman – Head of Strategy at Financial Supervisory Authority
Alex Stanescu – Partner at SLV Legal
Moderator: Andrei Burz Pinzaru – partner at Deloitte Legal Romania / Reff & Associates
Yoav Soffer – CBDC project manager at Bank of Israel
Subject – The Icebreaker project
The Bank for International Settlements (BIS) and the central banks of Israel, Norway and Sweden have concluded Project Icebreaker, which studied the potential benefits and challenges of using retail central bank digital currencies (CBDC) in international payments.
A collaboration between the BIS Innovation Hub Nordic Centre, Bank of Israel, Norges Bank, and Sveriges Riksbank, the project tested the technical feasibility of conducting cross-border and cross-currency transactions between different experimental retail CBDC systems.
Yoav Soffer – CBDC project manager at Bank of Israel (online)
Felix Crisan – Co-founder Netopia
Andrei Radulescu – Director, Macroeconomic Research (analysis and forecasting) at BT
Moderator: Nic Balaceanu – board member Rofin.Tech
Case study presentation – Yield agregator
Augustin Jianu – certME, product owner
Sebastian Cochinescu – Fouder & CEO at Tailpath (online)
Nils Andersen Roed – Deputy Head of Financial Crime at Binance (online)
Andrzej Dominiak – Chief Technology Officer – Banca Transilvania
Moderator: Nic Balaceanu – Co-Founder of Sunt.io
Are you ready to explore the cutting-edge technologies that are shaping Metaverse? Even if ChatGPT and Generative AI waves submerged Metaverse hype, the techs behind Metaverse, such as Web3, Digitalized Asset, and Immersive Xperience still continue to attract and bring value in new use-cases.
Crypto narrative in global payments Uncovering the role of crypto in global payments, touching the global & European trends, and role & vision that Visa has to play in this emerging ecosystem
How the newly launched Ripple CBDC platform powers real world asset adoption
Ilie Puscas – Country manager Binance Romania
Konstantinos Adamos – Lead Legal Counsel at Revolut (online)
Marius Morra – Co-founder Tokero
Mihnea Blidaru – Owner CryptoAlphas / trader
Mădălin Muraretiu – co-founder COINsiglieri
Moderator: Cornel Fratica – COO Metaventis
Adrian Stratulat – Co-Founder Clapart
Mihai Daniel Eremia – CEO XOXNO (online)
Sergiu Draganus – ludo.com
Victor Vevera – Director general ICI
Moderator: Endi Ungureanu – CEO and co-founder Metaventis
Ioana Frincu – Technology strategist
Alex Arghirescu – Chief Marketing Officer IXFI
Paige Soponar – Co-Fonder & COO at The Connecter
Alexandru Carbunariu – Crypto Project Advisor
Perello Laurent – CEO Arthera
Moderator: Alexandru Hobincu – Cryptoholics101.ro
Flavius Jakubowicz – Managing Partner Jasill
Elena Sighinaș – Tax Director Accace România
Moderator: Sergiu Traian Vasilescu – Managing Partner VD Law Group
Web 3.0 project competition
This year’s Spring edition comes with a series of innovations, both in terms of thematic content, development format and management structure. At this edition, the advisory board is made of business people with undeniable experience. Thus, we ensure everything we promised will be successfully delivered.
Validate & improve the structure and the content of the event. They provide support, including by inviting relevant speakers.
Launched by Banca Transilvania (BT) in July 2022, STUP is a physical and virtual space, dedicated to supporting the entrepreneurial community. Under the umbrella of #sefacelastup (it is done at STUP), BT has created the necessary infrastructure to connect entrepreneurs with service and product providers for setting up, running and managing a business.
Events for entrepreneurs and future entrepreneurs, organized both by BT and the partners of this initiative, will be held at STUP. The space is dedicated to all entrepreneurs, regardless of the bank they are a client of.
Stup is BT’s contribution to the growth of the entrepreneurial community. As Omer Tetik, the bank’s CEO, says, “Stup is a meeting place, a place of ideas, where businesses will be born”.
CaixaBank helped European Central Bank to develop a prototype within an experimental exercise to make immediate payments between
Care sunt diferențele dintre supravegherea prudențială și cea comportamentală?
Banca centrală nu are atribuții în privința practicilor de comercializare
Competitia de proiecte web 3.0 din cadrul conferintei internationale Banking 4.0 aliniaza la start 10 dintre cele mai
With more than 90% of countries exploring, developing and implementing Central Bank Digital Currencies (CBDCs) as a way
The digital euro comes at a highly delicate moment for the ECB and eurozone politicians, according to the
Under the new rules, crypto asset service providers are obliged to collect and make accessible certain information about
Consistent with the idea of promoting emerging technologies in the new digital economy, the NOCASH EVENTS company continues the Banking 4.0 event series – this year’s spring edition being dedicated to blockchain technology.
The international conference comes with a new start-up competition of blockchain projects “made in Romania”, intended to highlight the most promising ideas and business models, developed on blockchain technology.
The organizers of Banking 4.0, together with COINsiglieri, will select companies that are at most in the seed stage.
If your business also offers such a revolutionary business model or that solves a real problem by using blockchain, we invite you to register in the competition. Complete the registration form here. The last day of registration is June 7, till 05.00 pm.
Each start-up will have a 7-minute pitch, followed by another 3-minute Q&A session. It is up to each contestant how they will use their allotted time to convince the jury. It could be a pdf, a demo, or anything else deemed more relevant.
The minimum criteria taken into account are presented as follows:
Each evaluation criterion is scored from 1 to 10.
The final score will result from the summation of the points received on each separate criterion.
In case of equal points, the tie-breaker will be made after a new final round with another 5 minutes of presentation.
The first three winners will receive extremely attractive and complete service packages for a start-up at the beginning of its business journey, looking for financing and consulting.
Our competition offers 1st place with 112,800 EUR in services, products, and perks from partners, 2nd place with 21,300 EUR in services, products, and perks and 3rd place with 18,800
EUR in services, products, and perks, providing an opportunity for your startup to win valuable resources to help grow your business.
500 euro/project registration fee
“The NOCASH gala event was an exceptional platform that not only acknowledged, but also celebrated the innovative strides made in the field of blockchain technology. It is events like these that bring together the best minds in the industry, fostering a sense of unity, collaboration, and mutual respect among all participants. We were particularly impressed by the level of professionalism, organization, and dedication to excellence that NOCASH demonstrated throughout the event.