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Making Sense of FTX and Where We Go From Here

It’s highly unlikely anyone predicted the collapse of FTX in 2022. And the speed of the unraveling was one of the more dramatic corporate events since 2008. This event came as a massive surprise to even industry-insiders, including myself.

While I am a fairly unflappable optimist, the recent events have weighed uncharacteristically heavily on me. While crypto skeptics perhaps see this as affirmation of their views, it is certainly the case that no one building in crypto or blockchain wants to see anything unravel. As a result, many people I have spoken with in the space are disheartened. The implications and ripple effects will continue to unfold.

However, I do think FTX’s collapse can help illuminate a path for a constructive way forward for successful and sustainable innovation in the blockchain space. Crypto writ large needs a new narrative. We need to move from the current focus on trading and lending of tokens to creating real business value with blockchain and decentralized networks. We need to move to the next phase of the story — the more enduring and transformational one.

Beyond the multiple high profile collapses in crypto token trading and lending over the last 6 months, there are examples of blockchain and decentralized networks that are already fundamentally improving how business is executed, how we organize work, and how communities interact.

For example, for the very first time, we can now fundamentally re-architect how financial services works at the infrastructure layer. Most of the innovation in financial services in the last decade has been at the consumer app layer — what we experience as consumers on our mobile phones. Many fintechs still largely sit on top of the original legacy middle and back offices of banks.

Today, most of financial services relies on expensive trusted intermediaries. We have intermediaries because participants do not know for certain the buyer has cash and the seller has the asset. This is why many financial assets today settle two days after the transaction is complete.

Blockchain enables instantaneous bilateral settlement between two counterparties, creating agnostic marketplaces and eliminating counterparty risk. Existing financial services participants who adopt blockchain technology will significantly reduce operating costs and enable new revenue streams. This is revolutionary and will disrupt trillions of dollars of market capitalization in the space.

And this is not a prediction — financial players, both traditional financial institutions and new DeFi companies are leveraging blockchain technology today at scale. Provenance Blockchain, a public blockchain in the Cosmos ecosystem focused on institutional and regulated finance, has supported over $11B in real world financial asset transactions on a public chain, and is leveraged by over 60 financial institutions, including banks. Real world financial assets already on Provenance Blockchain include mortgages, home equity lines of credit, private market securities, private funds and payments.

The institutions that are transitioning to full digitally-native assets, servicing and trading lifecycle on blockchain are seeing meaningful business results. For example, yesterday we welcomed the sixth largest U.S. retail mortgage lender onto Provenance Blockchain who is leveraging Figure technology to significantly reduce the time it takes a borrower to receive funds in their bank account to under five days, streamlining a typically very painful process for consumers and improving Movement Mortgage’s bottom line.

To successfully leverage this transformational technology across financial services, we need to collectively do a few things:

  • Focus on sustainable business models that deliver meaningful business and customer value for users.
  • We need additional responsible stewards to help thoughtfully lead the future in the space, including those who understand risk management, credit risk, collateral, custody, balance sheet management, and the raft of financial services operating principles that have protected customer’s deposits and enabled banks to issue credit and manage risk for decades. The only way blockchain will become mainstream is if traditional financial participants use the technology for business value — this is where the assets, knowledge and customer relationships are.
  • We need appropriate and thoughtful regulatory guidance in this space — these are assets of value for businesses and consumers. Digital money representing fiat that is natively issued on blockchain is very important for financial services activities to successfully move onto blockchain, and in our view this should be led by banks. Provenance Blockchain has USDF — bank minted tokenized deposits that enables banks to support this transformation, leveraging the strength and depth of their balance sheets, customer relationships and regulatory frameworks, including AML/KYC.
# FTX # Crypto

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