摘要： What lies ahead for institutions that want their share of a decentralized financial system built on the blockchain?
▲圖片標題(來源：Nikolay Vinokurov via Alamy Stock Photo)
With big companies like Walmart dabbling more and more in cryptocurrency and the metaverse, the definition of a digital footprint seems poised to change.
It used to be that websites, social media, and mobile apps made up the core digital presence for companies. The decentralized world of Web 3.0, with its distributed networks built on the blockchain, decentralized finance, and the rise of nonfungible tokens (NFTs) lay out new opportunities for enterprises to explore.
But what are companies getting themselves into by diving into deeper digital waters known for fast-moving currents and unpredictable tides that change rapidly? Experts from Shyft Network, Dropp, and Dorsey & Whitney offered their perspectives on some risks, liabilities, and potential rewards that might rise to the surface.
Walmart turned heads recently with the discovery that the company filed trademark applications at the end of 2021 for potential cryptocurrency, blockchain assets, and other digital currency. Other companies and brands, such as Visa, Tesla, Nike, Pizza Hut, EA (Electronic Arts), Under Armour, and Gap, have all been making moves in the realm of cryptocurrency, NFTs, blockchain, and the metaverse.
Promises of Efficiency
The decentralized finance (DeFi) world, which has its foundation on blockchain, is evolving, says Sushil Prabhu, CEO of Dropp, a micropayments platform. “What the DeFi world offers is payments are made instantly without anyone in-between,” he says.
Another benefit he sees is the ability through smart contracts to take custody of digital assets, then release them when conditions are met. “If you look at lending, borrowing, and crowdfunding, all of those use cases could be made incredibly efficient and cheap,” Prabhu says.
He describes the DeFi world as a huge machine that anyone can enter and if they want, create their own token they can start trading with no single organization owning it. “This concept of a machine doing a lot of work, which right now requires lots of different institutions to be involved, is an indication that it’s extremely efficient.”
The buzz surrounding NFTs and the metaverse, Prabhu says, may bring more non-banking institutions to this space. Banks are likely not far behind. “We’re talking to banks ourselves,” he says. “It’s no secret: they want to get involved. They want to use the distributed ledger of blockchain technologies to build products, which would be a lot more efficient, a lot cheaper.”
Getting into DeFi is not free of peril, Prabhu says. “The prices of cryptocurrencies are very volatile,” he says. “That means a common person inherits a lot of risk. You could lose it all and there’s no one to call.” Stablecoins, he says, are becoming popular because they are designed to maintain a fixed value and remove some risk from the equation by converting those assets to a stable currency.
Undiscovered Decentralized Country
There can be a dark side to this new frontier. Increased use of decentralized assets has brought concerns of exploits -- such as cryptocurrency money laundering. The Financial Action Task Force (FATF), a global organization that combats money laundering, has been looking at how to mitigate risks around cryptocurrency, says Malcolm Wright, head of strategy for global regulatory and compliance solutions with Shyft Network. Regulators in the United States already had policy and guidance in this arena in place, he says, but the task force proposed wider suggestions on dealing with these emerging issues.
“FATF doesn’t create legislation but it does lay down recommendations and evaluates countries against how well they’ve implemented them,” Wright says. Shyft is a public protocol for validating identity to secure cryptocurrency, establishing trust in blockchain data.
FATF laid out recommendations in 2019 with the expectation that countries would regulate within two years and industry would look to comply within two years, he says. This was a way to mitigate the risk that illicit actors pose. “That began the journey primarily for centralized finance exchanges and custodians,” Wright says, referring to platforms that host the purchase and sale of cryptocurrency.
One of the major problems he says needed to be solved was the "travel rule" in crypto, which is the sending of originator information between exchanges about buyers and sellers when cryptocurrency is sold. “The purpose of this is so law enforcement could knock on the door of an exchange and says, ‘Hey, who were the parties to that transaction?’” says Wright.
While such oversight has been part of banking for years, becoming part and parcel of transactions, it is more complex to accomplish through crypto, he says, but the industry has found a way forward.