Bank of Japan Embracing Stablecoins Potential but Still Wary of Crypto

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In Brief
  • Bank of Japan Governor Haruhiko Kuroda has joined other central bankers in denouncing bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies.

  • Several central bank leaders look down on cryptocurrencies as volatile and speculative.

  • However, Kuroda admits there is potential in stablecoins, which was echoed by Fed Chairman Powell.

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Bank of Japan Governor Haruhiko Kuroda has joined the ranks of many central bankers denouncing bitcoin but admits there is potential in stablecoins.

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“Most of the trading is speculative and volatility is extraordinarily high,” Kuroda said of bitcoin. “It’s barely used as a means of settlement.”

With these remarks, Kuroda joins the ranks of central bank leaders who are pigeonholing cryptocurrencies as nothing more than volatile and speculative assets. In April, Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell remarked that cryptocurrencies are simply vehicles for speculation. Similarly, European Central Bank Vice President Luis de Guindos said crypto investments have “weak fundamentals” and are not real assets.

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Meanwhile, Bank of England Governor Andrew Bailey has made several statements on the subject this month. Bailey warned that cryptocurrencies have no intrinsic value, but acknowledged their “huge enthusiasm.” Regarding that enthusiasm, Denmark’s central bank governor Lars Rohde sees cryptocurrencies as a speculative fad. However, he sees the privatization of payment systems as “a real threat to the autonomy and independence of central banks,”

These concerns were shared by Bank of England Deputy Governor Jon Cunliffe who pointed to the “financial stability implications” of such a development. This is where stablecoins and central bank digital currencies may play a role.

Central bankers on stablecoins

Despite his antipathy towards cryptocurrencies, Kuroda made an exception for stablecoins since they have assets to back up their value. He further condoned stablecoins because they also meet legal standards and governance codes. Meeting these prerequisites, Kuroda admits they could become a convenient way to make payments in the future.

In a recent address, Fed Chairman Powell shared similar, but divergent feelings about stablecoins. Powell acknowledged that distributed ledger technology-enabled financial products and services, among them cryptocurrencies. However, he said they were too volatile to be a convenient payment method. On the other hand, because they’re tied to the value of a currency, stablecoins have the “potential to enhance payments efficiency, speed up settlement flows, and reduce end-user costs.”

Despite this positive appraisal, Powell highlighted that they still lack appropriate protection. Ultimately, the ability to utilize these advantages, while providing proper protection, would be a reason to issue a central bank digital currency (CBDC).

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Nick is a data scientist who teaches economics and communication in Budapest, Hungary, where he received a BA in Political Science and Economics and an MSc in Business Analytics from CEU. He has been writing about cryptocurrency and blockchain technology since 2018, and is intrigued by its potential economic and political usage. He can best be described as an optimistic center-left skeptic.

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