“The times they are a-Changin’” sung Bob Dylan in the 1960’s as the civil rights movement swept through the US and changed the direction of a Nation forever.Fast forward to 2019 and this anthem of change rings true for the banking sector. Whether it be emerging FinTech start-ups, regulatory bodies or the changing demands of their customers, it’s an industry that is being disrupted from all sides.
The last 18 months or so have seen initial coin offerings (ICOs) play a hugely disruptive role in the world of start-up financing. Companies the world over have managed to raise hundreds of millions of dollars—if not billions—to fund their blockchain-based development plans
The good news is that economic growth globally is strong, with a few exceptions, as the world shakes off the effects of the Great Recession. But economists are uneasy about troubling undercurrents, such as protectionist trade policies, that could whip up into a global trade war. Most are hoping that trade relationships can be repaired, acknowledging that the time is now to rebuild rather than burn bridges.
Secondary stock markets and cryptocurrency markets share a few things in common. First off, they have both been panned by critics. But more importantly, they have slowly gained acceptance as vehicles to provide funds to pre-IPO growth firms, some of which are now worth millions, and create liquidity pools for investors. Will crypto markets follow the trail blazed by the once denounced secondary stock markets into widespread acceptance?
Many bankers love blockchain for its potential to maximize efficiency and productivity while slashing costs and security risks. But the crypto-currencies, such as the (in)famous bitcoin, tied to it? Not so much—at least not across the board. While giving the thumbs up to distributed ledger technology for its advantages in areas such as trade finance, industry leaders are maintaining a wary eye on cryptos, due to disadvantages such as volatility.
Blockchain—a cryptographic, decentralized distributed ledger system—is gaining acceptance and prestige as its multiple advantages, such as immutability, become clear, even to normally cautious financial organisations. But it isn’t all smooth sailing. Especially in Europe, some of the new data and privacy regulations clash head-on with blockchain and its attendant crypto-currencies. Can the technology overcome these hurdles and continue on its path toward broad, industry-wide adoption?
During 2017, a few fortunate investors have made a lot of money very quickly on their investment in crypto-currencies, an asset class that did not exist just eight short years ago. But as with other rapidly evolving assets, that often seem too good to be true, the potential soaring profits of crypto-currencies are offset by the risks of crushing losses. “Investor beware” is the name of the crypto game!
“The 21st century has arrived.” This was the assessment from Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro in early December, as he officially announced his campaign to launch a national cryptocurrency.
On 12 June 2017, a blockchain-based company called Bancor raised approximately $153 million in ether (the coin of the cryptocurrency Ethereum) in just less than three hours by way of an initial coin offering (ICO).
While 2018 may still be in its infancy, the risks hanging over the year’s foreign-exchange (forex) markets have been brewing for some time. An assortment of global hotspots are positioned to affect major currencies and their viability on forex markets.