The Malta Bankers Association have appointed Marcel Cassar as their new chairperson. In a wide-ranging interview, he gave his opinion on banking, crypto, blockchain and more to the Malta Independent. Here’s the lowdown on the interview.
As is increasingly becoming the trend within financial sectors, Cassar was quick to praise blockchain for its efficiency, safety and security:
It sounds like a banker’s dream: having records of all transactions, documents and contracts that are always authentic and reliable. Identities, signatures, authorities, etc. that can be validated, stored, verified and shared, with no risk that they are tampered or deleted, without using intermediaries; safety and security without the heavy and costly hierarchies, bureaucracies and controls as we know them.
Bearing in mind that many top bankers and senior officials separate blockchain and crypto in order to praise the potential of the former and criticize the latter, it would have come as no surprise if Cassar had done the same. However, his comments on crypto were a lot more measured than most, instead citing uncertainty as the main reason for debate.
Will they be accepted as a store of value? How will they be regulated? Will they become legal tender? At this point, there is little evidence to suggest that cryptocurrencies, for all the hype, can be a threat to the fiat currencies in the short or medium term. But what it means for banks is that their traditional role as main payment intermediary for funds and currency transmission will become challenged, if not obsolete.
He did however go on to mention the oft-cited issues of volatility and risks of money laundering, although he acknowledged that uptake int he banking sector is on the rise – particularly in places like Switzerland. And while his view can undoubtedly be described as cautious, he did go on to say that crypto is “here to stay”:
My view is that cryptocurrencies are here to stay and, just like the early days of the internet which created a furore because of lack of regulation, once regulation and education improve and banks gain more confidence, some may reap first mover advantages. But there are still many unknowns and it may be a risky road until then.
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