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大型银行未来或将使用加密货币进行机构间转账

面对发展如火如荼的加密货币行业,多家大型银行也难免想要一试身手,并从中找到传统金融企业从中获益的方式。比如,近日瑞士银行业巨头瑞银(UBS)和另外10家公司就表示,他们计划采用比特币背后分布式账本区块链技术构建自己的电子货币。该计划可能为世界大型中央银行搭建类似项目提供范例。

瑞士联合银行(UBS)和Clearmatics Technologies于2015年发起了"结算专用币"(utility settlement coin)项目,最新加入的成员包括巴克莱银行(Barclays)和汇丰银行(HSBC)。该项目旨在开发一种全新的、简化的支付机制。据CoinDesk报道,该项目可能会替代资产买卖双方之间的传统结算渠道。

纽约梅隆银行(BNY Mellon)同样也是结算专用币项目的成员之一。该银行区块链项目负责人Alex Batlin在结算专用货币项目创立初期就参与指导了该项目。Batlin表示,这是区块链技术重塑金融领域一个很好的案例。他在今夏一次采访中表示:"区块链是一个很好的具有弹性的系统。比特币的有趣之处在于,自其推出以来,没人能破解它。而它是完全开放的。"

瑞银表示,每个结算代币都与欧元和美元进行对应,并由国家央行提供100%的担保。此举理念在于,使用数字货币大幅提升资产交易效率。

由于这一数字货币由央行先进进行担保,不会拖欠(银行在必要条件下可引发货币),因此不存在信用风险。瑞银表示,转账交易和所有权变更将被即时处理(这由区块链技术来保证)。当然,目前要达到这一目标还存在一些问题,例如新兴技术如何处理机构市场上庞大的交易规模。

北京和华盛顿的中央银行也有类似的想法,并正在探索是否可以发行自己的数字货币。英格兰银行认为可以利用其背后的区块链技术来加强对货币的控制,并作为一种刺激经济的新途径。主流融资方式已经过时,区块链和数字货币似乎已成为行业首选的新兴技术。

英国央行去年发表的研究报告表明,中央银行发行数字货币可以增强金融稳定性、促进经济增长,并使货币政策更有效率。私营部门为此提供了范例。瑞银与其他金融机构发起的项目远未完成,或将于明年末发布初期版本,但其背后的势头表明,区块链技术及相关项目正迈向主流市场。

The world’s biggest banks aren’t immune from cryptocurrency euphoria, with a range of projects underway to explore how traditional financial firms can benefit from the innovation. Swiss banking giant UBS and 10 other companies say that they plan to use the technical idea behind bitcoin—a distributed ledger called a blockchain—for their own digital currency. This could show the way for the world’s biggest central banks to do the same.

Banks like Barclays and HSBC are the latest to join the “utility settlement coin” project, started by UBS and Clearmatics Technologies in 2015. The idea is to develop a new, streamlined payment mechanism for institutional purposes. According to CoinDesk, it could potentially replace clearinghouses and other back-office plumbing that sits between buyers and sellers of assets.

Alex Batlin, who heads BNY Mellon’s blockchain projects, led work on utility settlement coin at UBS at its inception. For him, it’s an example of blockchain technology’s promise to remake finance. “Blockchain is a really good, resilient system,” he said in an interview earlier this summer. “The interesting thing about bitcoin is since its inception, no one’s cracked it. Yet it’s completely in the open.” BNY Mellon is also involved in the utility settlement coin project.

The hope is that the UBS group will come up with something faster, cheaper, and more reliable than existing systems. Each settlement coin would represent fiat currency like euros and dollars on a one-to-one basis, and would thus be 100% backed by collateral at the domestic central bank, according to UBS. The idea is that exchanging the digital currency as payment for assets will be a more efficient means of exchange.

Because the digital coins will be backed by cash at a central bank, which cannot default (they can always print money if they have to), the crypto tokens are free from credit risk. UBS says transfers and ownership could be settled instantly—the promise of blockchain technology. There are still questions, like whether the technology could handle the volume necessary for the scale of institutional markets run by big banks.

Central banks from Beijing to Washington have a similar idea, and are investigating whether they can issue their own digital currencies. While bitcoin was developed to disintermediate such centralized monetary authorities, the Bank of England believes it could use the technical ideas behind it to impose more control over its currency and provide new ways to stimulate the economy. Far from making mainstream finance obsolete, right now blockchain and cryptoassets appear to be one of the industry’s preferred new inventions.

The Bank of England published research last year (pdf) suggesting that a digital currency issued by a central bank could bolster financial stability, boost economic growth, and generally make monetary policy more efficient. A model for this is emerging in the private sector: The project involving UBS and other financial firms is far from complete—a limited launch could take place at the end of next year—but the momentum behind it suggests that cryptocurrencies are entering the mainstream.


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