The International Monetary Fund (IMF) is the latest global organization to step in and call on governments around the world to fight the adoption of cryptocurrencies – or suffer the consequences.
In its new Global Financial Stability Report, the IMF addresses the “financial stability challenges” of the “crypto ecosystem” in a dedicated chapter, and suggests that economic leaders stem the rise of crypto – by issuing their own central bank digital currencies (CBDCs).
In a blog post accompanying the study, the IMF concedes that cryptocurrencies offer “fast and easy payments,” as well as “innovative financial services” and “inclusive access to previously unbanked regions of the world.”
It says that “the crypto ecosystem is also thriving, with many exchanges, wallets, miners and stablecoin issuers.”
But it also warned that these assets pose “significant consumer protection risks, given limited or inadequate information and oversight,” noting that some tokens have “likely been created solely for speculative purposes, if not outright fraud.”
The IMF said that “cryptoization” was a risk in “emerging economies”, where their adoption has “surpassed that of advanced economies”, due to factors such as “low credibility of central banks and vulnerability of the banking system”, as well as inadequate payment networks.
This cryptoization, the authors added, “can reduce the ability of central banks to effectively implement monetary policy” and lead to “risks to financial stability” through “funding and solvency risks arising from currency mismatches.” It could also cause damage to consumers and compromise financial integrity, they noted.
The solution, according to the IMF? More regulation, more supervision – and more CBDCs.
The report’s authors wrote:
“Policymakers should implement global standards for crypto-assets and improve their ability to monitor this ecosystem by filling data gaps. Emerging markets facing these risks should strengthen their macroeconomic policies and consider the benefits of issuing central bank digital currencies.”
Globally, the IMF said that “policymakers should prioritize speeding up, reducing costs, transparency, and inclusion of cross-border payments” – building on the plans developed by the G20.
He also called on national regulators to “prioritize the implementation of existing global standards” and to strengthen protocols for securities, payments, clearing and settlement.
Stablecoin issuers also received a warning about a potential regulatory storm ahead: the authors conclude that “as the role of stablecoins grows,” regulations “should be proportionate to the risks they pose and the economic functions they perform.” Rules “should be aligned,” the organization suggests, with “entities that provide similar products,” such as “bank deposits or money market funds.”