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The Next Crypto Wave: The Rise of Stablecoins and its Entry to the U.S. Dollar Market

The Next Crypto Wave: The Rise of Stablecoins and its Entry to the U.S. Dollar Market

Author: Christian Hsieh, CEO of Tokenomy
This paper examines some explanations for the continual global market demand for the U.S. dollar, the rise of stablecoins, and the utility and opportunities that crypto dollars can offer to both the cryptocurrency and traditional markets.
The U.S. dollar, dominant in world trade since the establishment of the 1944 Bretton Woods System, is unequivocally the world’s most demanded reserve currency. Today, more than 61% of foreign bank reserves and nearly 40% of the entire world’s debt is denominated in U.S. dollars1.
However, there is a massive supply and demand imbalance in the U.S. dollar market. On the supply side, central banks throughout the world have implemented more than a decade-long accommodative monetary policy since the 2008 global financial crisis. The COVID-19 pandemic further exacerbated the need for central banks to provide necessary liquidity and keep staggering economies moving. While the Federal Reserve leads the effort of “money printing” and stimulus programs, the current money supply still cannot meet the constant high demand for the U.S. dollar2. Let us review some of the reasons for this constant dollar demand from a few economic fundamentals.

Demand for U.S. Dollars

Firstly, most of the world’s trade is denominated in U.S. dollars. Chief Economist of the IMF, Gita Gopinath, has compiled data reflecting that the U.S. dollar’s share of invoicing was 4.7 times larger than America’s share of the value of imports, and 3.1 times its share of world exports3. The U.S. dollar is the dominant “invoicing currency” in most developing countries4.

https://preview.redd.it/d4xalwdyz8p51.png?width=535&format=png&auto=webp&s=9f0556c6aa6b29016c9b135f3279e8337dfee2a6

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This U.S. dollar preference also directly impacts the world’s debt. According to the Bank of International Settlements, there is over $67 trillion in U.S. dollar denominated debt globally, and borrowing outside of the U.S. accounted for $12.5 trillion in Q1 20205. There is an immense demand for U.S. dollars every year just to service these dollar debts. The annual U.S. dollar buying demand is easily over $1 trillion assuming the borrowing cost is at 1.5% (1 year LIBOR + 1%) per year, a conservative estimate.

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Secondly, since the U.S. has a much stronger economy compared to its global peers, a higher return on investments draws U.S. dollar demand from everywhere in the world, to invest in companies both in the public and private markets. The U.S. hosts the largest stock markets in the world with more than $33 trillion in public market capitalization (combined both NYSE and NASDAQ)6. For the private market, North America’s total share is well over 60% of the $6.5 trillion global assets under management across private equity, real assets, and private debt investments7. The demand for higher quality investments extends to the fixed income market as well. As countries like Japan and Switzerland currently have negative-yielding interest rates8, fixed income investors’ quest for yield in the developed economies leads them back to the U.S. debt market. As of July 2020, there are $15 trillion worth of negative-yielding debt securities globally (see chart). In comparison, the positive, low-yielding U.S. debt remains a sound fixed income strategy for conservative investors in uncertain market conditions.

Source: Bloomberg
Last, but not least, there are many developing economies experiencing failing monetary policies, where hyperinflation has become a real national disaster. A classic example is Venezuela, where the currency Bolivar became practically worthless as the inflation rate skyrocketed to 10,000,000% in 20199. The recent Beirut port explosion in Lebanon caused a sudden economic meltdown and compounded its already troubled financial market, where inflation has soared to over 112% year on year10. For citizens living in unstable regions such as these, the only reliable store of value is the U.S. dollar. According to the Chainalysis 2020 Geography of Cryptocurrency Report, Venezuela has become one of the most active cryptocurrency trading countries11. The demand for cryptocurrency surges as a flight to safety mentality drives Venezuelans to acquire U.S. dollars to preserve savings that they might otherwise lose. The growth for cryptocurrency activities in those regions is fueled by these desperate citizens using cryptocurrencies as rails to access the U.S. dollar, on top of acquiring actual Bitcoin or other underlying crypto assets.

The Rise of Crypto Dollars

Due to the highly volatile nature of cryptocurrencies, USD stablecoin, a crypto-powered blockchain token that pegs its value to the U.S. dollar, was introduced to provide stable dollar exposure in the crypto trading sphere. Tether is the first of its kind. Issued in 2014 on the bitcoin blockchain (Omni layer protocol), under the token symbol USDT, it attempts to provide crypto traders with a stable settlement currency while they trade in and out of various crypto assets. The reason behind the stablecoin creation was to address the inefficient and burdensome aspects of having to move fiat U.S. dollars between the legacy banking system and crypto exchanges. Because one USDT is theoretically backed by one U.S. dollar, traders can use USDT to trade and settle to fiat dollars. It was not until 2017 that the majority of traders seemed to realize Tether’s intended utility and started using it widely. As of April 2019, USDT trading volume started exceeding the trading volume of bitcoina12, and it now dominates the crypto trading sphere with over $50 billion average daily trading volume13.

https://preview.redd.it/3vq7v1jg09p51.png?width=700&format=png&auto=webp&s=46f11b5f5245a8c335ccc60432873e9bad2eb1e1
An interesting aspect of USDT is that although the claimed 1:1 backing with U.S. dollar collateral is in question, and the Tether company is in reality running fractional reserves through a loose offshore corporate structure, Tether’s trading volume and adoption continues to grow rapidly14. Perhaps in comparison to fiat U.S. dollars, which is not really backed by anything, Tether still has cash equivalents in reserves and crypto traders favor its liquidity and convenience over its lack of legitimacy. For those who are concerned about Tether’s solvency, they can now purchase credit default swaps for downside protection15. On the other hand, USDC, the more compliant contender, takes a distant second spot with total coin circulation of $1.8 billion, versus USDT at $14.5 billion (at the time of publication). It is still too early to tell who is the ultimate leader in the stablecoin arena, as more and more stablecoins are launching to offer various functions and supporting mechanisms. There are three main categories of stablecoin: fiat-backed, crypto-collateralized, and non-collateralized algorithm based stablecoins. Most of these are still at an experimental phase, and readers can learn more about them here. With the continuous innovation of stablecoin development, the utility stablecoins provide in the overall crypto market will become more apparent.

Institutional Developments

In addition to trade settlement, stablecoins can be applied in many other areas. Cross-border payments and remittances is an inefficient market that desperately needs innovation. In 2020, the average cost of sending money across the world is around 7%16, and it takes days to settle. The World Bank aims to reduce remittance fees to 3% by 2030. With the implementation of blockchain technology, this cost could be further reduced close to zero.
J.P. Morgan, the largest bank in the U.S., has created an Interbank Information Network (IIN) with 416 global Institutions to transform the speed of payment flows through its own JPM Coin, another type of crypto dollar17. Although people argue that JPM Coin is not considered a cryptocurrency as it cannot trade openly on a public blockchain, it is by far the largest scale experiment with all the institutional participants trading within the “permissioned” blockchain. It might be more accurate to refer to it as the use of distributed ledger technology (DLT) instead of “blockchain” in this context. Nevertheless, we should keep in mind that as J.P. Morgan currently moves $6 trillion U.S. dollars per day18, the scale of this experiment would create a considerable impact in the international payment and remittance market if it were successful. Potentially the day will come when regulated crypto exchanges become participants of IIN, and the link between public and private crypto assets can be instantly connected, unlocking greater possibilities in blockchain applications.
Many central banks are also in talks about developing their own central bank digital currency (CBDC). Although this idea was not new, the discussion was brought to the forefront due to Facebook’s aggressive Libra project announcement in June 2019 and the public attention that followed. As of July 2020, at least 36 central banks have published some sort of CBDC framework. While each nation has a slightly different motivation behind its currency digitization initiative, ranging from payment safety, transaction efficiency, easy monetary implementation, or financial inclusion, these central banks are committed to deploying a new digital payment infrastructure. When it comes to the technical architectures, research from BIS indicates that most of the current proofs-of-concept tend to be based upon distributed ledger technology (permissioned blockchain)19.

https://preview.redd.it/lgb1f2rw19p51.png?width=700&format=png&auto=webp&s=040bb0deed0499df6bf08a072fd7c4a442a826a0
These institutional experiments are laying an essential foundation for an improved global payment infrastructure, where instant and frictionless cross-border settlements can take place with minimal costs. Of course, the interoperability of private DLT tokens and public blockchain stablecoins has yet to be explored, but the innovation with both public and private blockchain efforts could eventually merge. This was highlighted recently by the Governor of the Bank of England who stated that “stablecoins and CBDC could sit alongside each other20”. One thing for certain is that crypto dollars (or other fiat-linked digital currencies) are going to play a significant role in our future economy.

Future Opportunities

There is never a dull moment in the crypto sector. The industry narratives constantly shift as innovation continues to evolve. Twelve years since its inception, Bitcoin has evolved from an abstract subject to a familiar concept. Its role as a secured, scarce, decentralized digital store of value has continued to gain acceptance, and it is well on its way to becoming an investable asset class as a portfolio hedge against asset price inflation and fiat currency depreciation. Stablecoins have proven to be useful as proxy dollars in the crypto world, similar to how dollars are essential in the traditional world. It is only a matter of time before stablecoins or private digital tokens dominate the cross-border payments and global remittances industry.
There are no shortages of hypes and experiments that draw new participants into the crypto space, such as smart contracts, new blockchains, ICOs, tokenization of things, or the most recent trends on DeFi tokens. These projects highlight the possibilities for a much more robust digital future, but the market also needs time to test and adopt. A reliable digital payment infrastructure must be built first in order to allow these experiments to flourish.
In this paper we examined the historical background and economic reasons for the U.S. dollar’s dominance in the world, and the probable conclusion is that the demand for U.S. dollars will likely continue, especially in the middle of a global pandemic, accompanied by a worldwide economic slowdown. The current monetary system is far from perfect, but there are no better alternatives for replacement at least in the near term. Incremental improvements are being made in both the public and private sectors, and stablecoins have a definite role to play in both the traditional and the new crypto world.
Thank you.

Reference:
[1] How the US dollar became the world’s reserve currency, Investopedia
[2] The dollar is in high demand, prone to dangerous appreciation, The Economist
[3] Dollar dominance in trade and finance, Gita Gopinath
[4] Global trades dependence on dollars, The Economist & IMF working papers
[5] Total credit to non-bank borrowers by currency of denomination, BIS
[6] Biggest stock exchanges in the world, Business Insider
[7] McKinsey Global Private Market Review 2020, McKinsey & Company
[8] Central banks current interest rates, Global Rates
[9] Venezuela hyperinflation hits 10 million percent, CNBC
[10] Lebanon inflation crisis, Reuters
[11] Venezuela cryptocurrency market, Chainalysis
[12] The most used cryptocurrency isn’t Bitcoin, Bloomberg
[13] Trading volume of all crypto assets, coinmarketcap.com
[14] Tether US dollar peg is no longer credible, Forbes
[15] New crypto derivatives let you bet on (or against) Tether’s solvency, Coindesk
[16] Remittance Price Worldwide, The World Bank
[17] Interbank Information Network, J.P. Morgan
[18] Jamie Dimon interview, CBS News
[19] Rise of the central bank digital currency, BIS
[20] Speech by Andrew Bailey, 3 September 2020, Bank of England
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BlockChain Enable a Quadrillion-Dollar Derivatives Market?

BlockChain Enable a Quadrillion-Dollar Derivatives Market?
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CAN BLOCKCHAIN ENABLE A QUADRILLION-DOLLAR DERIVATIVES MARKET? IT’S A REAL POSSIBILITY. By 2028, the world economy has exploded with exponential economic growth. BlockChain is now the heart of commerce and trade. Investopedia’s valuation on the Derivatives Market now stands true at $1.2 quadrillion. And you are now very rich with your array of futures, derivatives and cryptocurrencies on hand. Isn’t this a nice possibility?
Now, imagine travelling back to 2018.
You are scrolling your news feed. The headlines show in 2017 alone, BlockChain startups have raised $1.2 billion worth initial coin offering (ICOs). ICOs enable startups, to raise money from the general public by allowing them to buy a stake in their business; which comes in a form of a token or digital currency. It looks like the public are beginning to understand the potential of cryptocurrencies and blockchain technology.
A Facebook notification pops up on your mobile phone. Your friend has posted an article on your Facebook wall. The article is about Ethereum, the hot new BlockChain technology that is creating even bigger ripples in the finance world than its predecessor BitCoin. It seems that Ethereum is now the birthplace of many decentralized platforms, which raise funds via ICOs. As more funds are raised, these platforms get better and this drives up the value of Ethereum. The top platforms are Golem, Augur, Basic Attention Tokens and Gnosis, which collectively ring in $1.27 billion in market value. The amount of money that has been invested into Ethereum based BlockChain technology shows that people see Blockchain as the future of commerce and finance.
This all sounds good and you’re ready to participate in a hot ICO. But as a possible new investor in an ICO based on the Ethereum blockchain, how do you get started? Which platform and ICO should you consider investing in?
  1. YOU WILL NEED TO GET A WALLET. Wallets are like digital bank accounts, they hold your tokens and other cryptocurrencies you plan to buy and hold. Most ICOs are built on Ethereum smart contracts and your Wallet has to support receiving tokens. In an ICO, you send currency (typically ETH or BTC) to the company issuing a new token and receive the amount of tokens based on the given exchange rate by the company. MyEtherWallet is one of the most popular Ethereum Wallets because it is linked to the BlockChain, has excellent security features, and best of all it gives you full control of your Wallet (unlike other online wallets that are controlled by third party companies). You can get MyEtherWallet here.
  2. RESEARCH EXTENSIVELY ON AVAILABLE ICOS As with any form of investment, you need to do your research and due diligence. Unlike the research on conventional investments that look at statistics, company performance, average daily volume and annual yield, ICOs require a different kind of analysis. Often times, millions of dollars are raised in ICOs with no product or company track record. Most traditional investors would not invest as the risk outweigh the gains from the investment. It feels like a gamble.
How then would you know if an ICO is worth investing into?
First of all, you would need to study its platform concept, market potential and sustainability for long-term growth.
Is it easy for users to adopt and understand?
Do the Founders and Developers of the platform have sound knowledge of economics, inflation, block size, fees, administration, security and human behavior?
Does the crypto-economic system have what it takes to be sustainable?
Who is the team behind the platform? Are they knowledgeable and experienced?
Is this a revolutionary or game-changing product that has massive market potential?
Take Level01 as an example. It is the World’s First Brokerless Derivatives Exchange in Partnership with Thomson Reuters. The concept is innovative, more importantly; it has an enticing proposition because it addresses gaps, issues and problems faced by traditional trading markets. This facilitates a stable, robust and potentially profitable investment eco-system. How so?
Remember Investopedia’s valuation of the derivatives market at a thrilling $1.2 quadrillion? This estimate is debatable because it needed to consider, “notional value”, versus actual market value. The lack of certainty on pricing and not having accurate market data can be frustrating. Brokers also charge a fee for both ends; buying and selling, which makes it expensive to participate in trade. In addition, not everyone relishes in the prospect of understanding financial data, terms and conditions. These factors are barriers to entry that reduces the pool of investors in the derivatives market.
The Founders of Level01 saw all these and sought to develop solutions that can make investing easy, transparent, secure and fair, by using the Blockchain and partnership with financial market leader, Thomson Reuters.
AN APP THAT MAKES ANYONE A BETTER INVESTOR Whether you are a first time investor or an experienced investor, the Level01 App will help you make better investment decisions, save time and get better at investing in the Derivatives Market. Its sleek interface, smart data feed and intuitive features are designed to fit all investor types to make the trading experience as easy as 1, 2, 3.
CHANGING THE GAME WITH ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE When you log on, the Level01 platform, you will have FairSenseTM Artificial Intelligence on hand to analyze trade intent patterns of all users on the platform to find the best matches for you. Once a match is found, it employs its proprietary dynamic fair price-balancing algorithm to show fair pricing for both sides of the trade contract. This saves investors time, speeds up trade, and keeps inflation in check with fair pricing.
CREDIBLE AND RELIABLE DATA FEED FROM THOMSON REUTERS Level01 raised the bar further by collaborating with Thomson Reuters. They integrated and enabled live streaming real-time market prices for Forex, Index, Cryptocurrency, Commodities and Stocks directly from Thomson Reuters, a global leader for information and data sources for professional markets. Having a 150-year-old brand name like Thomson Reuters lends tremendous credibility to the data and keeps investors informed of actual value prior to the commencement of the trade.
AUTOMATED SMART CONTRACTS As if that was not enough, the Level01 is designed as an exchange and trading platform with a system of smart contracts that resolves trust, emotion and irresponsibility in an efficient, transparent, automated manner. These automated digital contracts saves time and money for investors so that they can concentrate on analyzing data and deciding on investments.
SUSTAINABLE GROWTH DRIVEN BY USERS You may be thinking by now, that is all well and good, but what are they doing to make this unique Derivatives Exchange sustainable and primed for growth? The designers of Level01 looked towards attracting quality investors by incorporating a fair rating system based on statistics and empowering them with the ability to add value to the network, and derive value for themselves. Level01 rewards users when they participate in the ecosystem. To make it even more enticing, the Level01 platform enables Trade Room Hosting, which allows users to earn commission. These lucrative set points are attractive to users who will jump on board and increase the liquidity base, which of course, benefits everyone.
BETTER FINANCIAL LIQUIDITY Sometimes being able to sell is as important as being able to buy. This means your assets and investments can be easily converted to cash. Level01 gives you full control over your own funds by allowing your deposits and withdrawals to be done instantly. You can also change the native platform LVX tokens between BitCoin and Ethereum for better financial liquidity.
WIDER FINANCIAL PORTFOLIO Level01 allows you to trade both traditional and cryptocurrency market assets to give you greater ease and freedom to plan a diverse portfolio to suit your needs whether you like to play it safe or take profitable risks.
DIVERSE AND EXPERIENCED TEAM An international team with accolades, achievements and awards helms Level01 Derivatives Exchange. There is a mathematician and data analyst, a software engineer and system architect, a highly ranked digital marketing specialist, an expert in corporate operations, a consultant in banking and finance, a key quantitative analyst consultant who over saw $25B AUM, a corporate strategist and brand planning expert and an inventor-CEO with a string of successes under his belt, including founding a successful public listed company in Australia.
GROWING INTEREST Level01 just begun but it is already making waves in the cryptocurrency and investment world. Forums and chat groups are buzzing with conversations as seasoned cryptocurrency investors hop on the bandwagon, eager to sweep up ICOs before the rest of the world notices. Coin Telegraph, which is the top news portal on cryptocurrency, described Level01 partnership with Thomson Reuters as a great game-changer that will allow general public to trade derivatives like a pro using big data previously only available to institutional traders.
Could this be your ticket to making your 2028 the best year ever? As if you invested in Google back in 2004. You can check out more about this upcoming platform here.
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