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digital daily: Where’s my application?

Where’s my application? A solution looking for a problem is the most trivialized dismissal of financial digital technologies. Skeptics demand the use case – a real one, not some fanciful caricature of the future. The most important one is staring at us all – aging our image in a mirror as the reflection is shunned. Stablecoin. It is the killer application despite regulatory obstinance. And it performed admirably through last year’s severe stress test. A record $8 trillion of stablecoin settled to blockchains in 2022. It is quickly approaching the volumes of leading settlement tools in traditional finance, like Visa. Data like these, not idle speculation, declare digital assets here to stay. And if there were ever a time to flee the digital ecosystem, it was last year. It didn’t happen. Assets for the top four US dollar stablecoin ended the year almost identical to where they started, at $134 billion, up from $27 billion two years earlier. It was also not a preset outcome. Offramps to fiat are easy with stablecoin by design. In fact, it is the ease of offramps that worries policy, with the potential for a rush of destabilizing outflows that could adversely impact traditional asset markets. So, what better place to seek regulatory clarity than the most important application in the ecosystem? The stablecoin bill was a legislative priority for the incoming House Financial Services Chair, Patrick McHenry. That was before FTX. The good news – FTX didn’t impact the banking system. Bank regulators want to ensure it stays that way. The bad news – FTX sucked the oxygen out of DC. Still, the case for regulatory clarity is stronger than ever. Now, the question is not when but where. The UK is desperate for a financial growth story, after all.