The European Union (EU) must embrace cryptocurrencies as failure to do so now could mean that it epically falls behind in the global fintech race, an expert said last week amid a two-day digital innovation Delta Summit that took place in Malta on 2-4 October 2019.
Nigel Green, CEO of deVere Group, said not adopting cryptocurrencies would deny citizens all the associated benefits of digital currencies and it would be detrimental to the economy.
“It’s not only governmental organisations, the majority of traditional banks are also failing their customers in regards to fintech,” Green said.
Unlike some governments around the world such as China and Dubai (UAE), which are increasingly considering launching their own digital currencies, the EU has so far exercised a huge degree of passivity and animosity towards digital currencies.
In July this year, the European Central Bank said Bitcoin was not a currency, but an asset and a volatile one.
“It is completely bizarre that the EU, the world’s largest trading bloc, has not yet vowed to do the same when cryptocurrencies are, clearly, redefining and reshaping the way the world handles money,” Green said.
In the past, EU banks were caught off guard by the global crash. In the aftermath they were busy dealing with the new regulatory landscape that prevailed, evolving client expectations and, for some, the massive financial penalties.
However, some observers believe that the arrival of Christine Lagarde at the helm of ECB could change the way Europe sees Bitcoin.
Lagarde, the former International Monetary Fund (IMF) DG, is being seen as crypto-friendly. Some commentators now believe that Lagarde could move towards enacting policies that may open the way to oldest continent adopting cryptocurrencies.
Her opening statement last month to the Economic and Monetary Affairs Committee of the European Parliament said it all.
“In this environment, central banks and supervisors need to ensure the safety of the financial sector, but also to be open to the opportunities provided by change,” she said.
“In the case of new technologies – including digital currencies – that means being alert to risks in terms of financial stability, privacy or criminal activities, and ensuring appropriate regulation is in place to steer technology towards the public good.
“But it also means recognising the wider social benefits from innovation and allowing them space to develop.”