Payment Expert’s Blockchain Bulletin analyses how the world of blockchain is constantly evolving and having a major impact on the payment industry, with cryptocurrencies, NFTs and the metaverse revolutionising the space. 

This week, Europe could be one step closer to realising a digital euro central bank digital currency (CBDC) whilst another key witness takes the stand in the ongoing Sam Bankman-Fried trial. 

ECB paves the way for further digital euro potential

The European Central Bank (ECB) announced its is ramping up its CBDC programme by moving onto the preparation phase for the digital euro

The phase will commence 1 November 2023 and will last two years as the ECB and the Eurosystem map out design elements for the digital euro, as well as establishing a rulebook for it to be widely accessible for all consumers and businesses within the EU. 

After the two year process is over, the Governing Council of the ECB will deliberate on whether to move to the next stage of its roadmap, which would include plans for potential issuance and the roll-out of the CBDC. 

Jack Fletcher, Head of Government Relations for Digital Currencies at R3, spoke to Payment Expert on the importance of the move, specifically with a backdrop of contention around privacy and the  introduction of CBDCs. 

Ex-FTX engineer shares distress over downfall of company 

After already pleading guilty to prosecutors months in advance, former FTX engineer Nishad Singh testified against Sam Bankman-Fried and retold information that placed the disgraced FTX founder at the heart of the exchange’s collapse. 

Singh confirmed that the billions of user funds sent to Alameda from FTX left a huge financial hole in both firms’ balance sheets and upon learning of this, he came to the realisation he had put “five years of blood, sweat, and tears” for something that “turned out to be for something evil.” 

He also told jurors the reason he stayed working at FTX was due to SBF becoming insistent on keeping him in his role, as Singh told the court, “how could I live with myself if my departure precipitated a fall that could’ve been avoidable?”

FCA’s new crypto marketing rules force Binance into UK pause 

In light of the newly enforced crypto marketing and promotions rules setup by the UK’s Financial Conduct Authority (FCA), Binance has stopped accepting new users in the country. 

Binance had agreed to work with RebuildingSociety for its ads and campaigns to be approved before the new regulations were launched. Despite this, the FCA affirmed that the company was not authorised to clear Binance’s ads. 

Existing Binance users in the UK will subsequently not be able to access new products and services during this interim period and will only be able to access regular functions once they complete a Investor Declaration and Appropriateness Test. 

CBDC fears in US grow as Fed Governor uncertain of its future

Speaking at an event held at Harvard Law School in Washington this week, Federal Reserve Governor Michelle Bowman remains uncertain of the value of adopting CDBCs in the US. 

The US is one of few countries in the world who have yet to dive deep into CBDCs as many fears grow over privacy and security elements of the digital currency. 

Bowman stated: “The potential benefits of a US CBDC remain unclear, and the introduction of a US CBDC could pose significant risks and tradeoffs for the financial system.”

Australia to ramp up crypto regulations by 2024

The Australian Treasury announced this via a proposal paper aiming to formulate and draw out plans to further regulate its crypto market, with draft legislation being slated for 2024. 

The paper proposes a new framework on licensing for crypto companies, based in or coming into the country, to apply to gain clearance, with a 12 month transition time period in place for companies to make the transition. 

Wirex looks to  new crypto and traditional finance potential 

Wirex has deepened its offering through the launch of the Wirex Dual-Mode Card, seeking to combine the reliability of traditional financial systems with the ‘transformative potential of decentralised finance’ (DeFi).

The Wirex Dual-Mode Card places a key focus on flexibility and control over financial assets, providing two distinct modes to cater to diverse preferences.