ESMA Examines Impact of Blockchain Tech on Financial Systems

On the 16th of December, the European Securities and Markets Authority (ESMA) held the second Financial Innovation Day event. The venue focused primarily on technological developments in the financial space and the security and regulatory implications of distributed ledger systems (blockchain).

The event was attended by some very prominent European financial regulators such as Jean-Paul Servais, President of the Belgium FSMA and Chair of ESMA’s Financial Innovation Standing Committee. Opening remarks by Servais pointed out the importance, and also the risks, of distributed ledger technology and its application in the legacy financial system.

“More recently, we have seen a growing interest for the distributed ledger technology, which underpins the virtual currencies, as an alternative mechanism to issue, trade and record ownership of securities. There could be opportunities here, but clearly also risks while these mechanisms are not well understood and generally operating outside regulation.“

Adrian Blundell-Wignall, Special Advisor at the OECD, gave a speech in which he called for a firm regulatory approach that does not stifle innovation in the blockchain economy, “Terrorism finance, money laundering and illicit trade are all reasons to strictly regulate this space. However, we need to be careful not to curb the technological innovation in this area.”

Other keynote speakers included Alex Batlin of UBS Lab, Blythe Masters, CEO of Digital Asset Holdings, Wiebe Ruttenberg, senior advisor at the ECB and John Schindler, head of macroeconomic analysis at the Federal Reserve.



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