The Philippines has started exploring blockchain technology use cases, launching a training program for researchers in the government’s Department of Science and Technology (DOST).
Enrico Paringit, a DOST official, said that the goal of the training is to see how blockchain can play a role in areas like healthcare, financial support and emergency aid. Paringit noted that the department is also looking at how blockchain can be used in the issuance of passports and visas, trademark registration and government records.
While cryptocurrency is a prominent application for blockchain, the DOST official highlighted that the department intends to “build non-cryptocurrency applications,” adding that it aims to produce blockchain development specialists that could support the government in various applications of the technology.
The program received funding that could cover the expenses of training information technology specialists and researchers. However, Paringit highlighted that the lack of local blockchain experts has given the department difficulties.
Fortunato de la Peña, the Philippines’ secretary of science and technology, also weighed in, saying that blockchain is “an important emerging technology” that the country needs to develop.
Back in April, PayMaya, a digital payment provider based in the Philippines, launched a crypto trading feature within its application. The app, often used by Filipinos for online shopping or transferring money locally, has listed Bitcoin (BTC), Ether (ETH) and other prominent cryptocurrencies for trading with the Philippine peso.
The same month, Voyager Innovations — the firm behind PayMaya — surpassed a $1 billion valuation after receiving funds to develop PayMaya’s recently added crypto offerings. The company recognizes that there are opportunities in serving the Filipino population when it comes to digital finance.
The Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) has launched Project Guardian, a blockchain-based digital assets trial that will use tokenization. The project will include regulated financial institutions serving as "trust anchors," with a pilot involving JP Morgan, DBS Bank and Marketnode, the SGX joint venture for bonds.
The Project Guardian initiative, which was announced during the Asia Tech x Singapore Summit on Tuesday, was spearheaded by Deputy Prime Minister and Coordinating Minister for Economic Policies Heng Swee Keat. It will see MAS explore decentralized finance (DeFi) applications in wholesale funding markets by establishing a liquidity pool of tokenized bonds and deposits to execute borrowing and lending on a public blockchain-based network.
According to MAS chief fintech officer, Sopnendu Mohanty, lessons from Project Guardian will serve as a basis for informing policy markets on the regulatory guard rails that are required to utilize DeFi while also mitigating its hazards.
Both DBS and JPMorgan have experience developing digital assets and blockchain technology in their wholesale banking operations. Last year, DBS launched an $11 million digital bond in a security token offering (STO). Since its inception in 2020, JPMorgan's Onyx Digital Assets Network has completed over $300 billion of transactions.
DBS Bank has been active in the cryptocurrency industry for several years, establishing its own institutional-grade crypto exchange in December 2020. The firm has been progressively enhancing the range of supported digital asset services on the exchange, with a crypto trust solution debuting in May 2021.
MAS has taken the lead in exploring the future of finance with DeFi protocols, becoming one of the few major regulators to do so. If it succeeds, it might help Singapore cement its position as a global financial center.
The United Nations is smitten with distributed ledger technology (DLT). In a conversation with Cointelegraph at WEF 2022, United Nations International Computing Centre (UNICC) director Sameer Chauhan explained the “massive opportunities” he sees in cryptocurrencies.
A former traditional finance executive and head of the UNICC since 2018, Chauhan has seen the rise and fall of cryptocurrency markets. He shared that groups such as the Bank for International Settlements (BIS) do not want to “miss the boat” when it comes to DLTs.
Chauhan explained that cryptocurrencies are neutral technologies:
“It’s a tool. You could use it for good or you could use it for profiting—which is not bad. [...] In the future, crypto will be a very strong component of how the world interacts and how they transact, making it a more level playing field.”
A powerful vehicle in terms of “bridging the digital divide,” or “transparency,” cryptocurrencies can encourage outcomes the UNICC promotes, he said. The key is the implementation of cryptocurrencies to ensure that they can be “leveraged correctly.”
Central bank digital currencies, or CBDCs, could be the implementation of distributed ledger technologies on which UNICC settles. To the last question posed in the Davos Ice Hockey Stadium, Chauhan answers, “CBDCs bring the cost down” and are more powerful than fiat, or government-issued, money.
Nonetheless, there is “no one stance” when it comes to UN agencies concerning CBDCs as there are high levels of independence and autonomy among UN agencies. From refugees to food crises to women’s welfare, the UN seeks to resolve these problems—and a CBDC could be a solution:
“Maybe if we can find the right model, leverage some kind of CBDC, the interaction with the constituents we are designed to serve could be frictionless—could be smoother, more transparent.”
A hot topic at the WEF 2022, some bankers called to pump the brakes of any CBDC rollout as there are still too many unknowns. The payments network SWIFT was brought into question during a CBDC panel discussion at the WEF, where Mastercard CEO Michael Miebach joked that SWIFT would not exist in five years' time.
Whether it's a CBDC or a stablecoin with which the UN has already experimented while aiding Ukrainian refugees, Chauhan conclude that when it comes to crypto, “from where we sit, we see massive opportunities.”
This Daily Dose was brought to you by Cointelegraph.