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Discussing cryptocurrency trends with Bernard Nicolay

Bernard Nicolay (Adjunct Professor, Solvay Brussels School of Economics and Management, ULB) will participate to the next edition of ICT Spring to take place on September 15th and 16th. The expert will take the stage during the Fintech Summit and discuss the latest tokenization and cryptocurrencies trends. Today, he tells us more about the most promising crypto trends and current regulatory challenges.

What are the main cryptocurrencies trends? Which one is the most promising, according to you?

In my university lecturing and angel investing activities, I am very curious to identify and understand the potential of emerging use cases for market players, including the potential of blockchain, cryptocurrencies and virtual assets.

From there, I try to evaluate which market player, incumbent or new entrant, is best positioned to seize the market opportunity in a sustainable way.

As the cryptocurrency market is young and evolving, I recommend interested stakeholders to follow the current debate about considering bitcoin as an asset class for portfolio diversification or not, and whether stablecoins have the potential to increase cryptocurrency adoption.

More generally, I follow developments in payments, including stablecoins and central banking digital currencies, investments, including asset management, and financing, including tokenization and trade finance, as well as mining and digital custody use cases.


Why are some governments and nations interested in launching their own cryptocurrencies? What would be the advantages of such cryptos?

Governments and supranational organizations such as OECD and the European Union are fully aware of market developments relating to cryptocurrencies and it is true that the Libra initiative and regular announcements from China may have triggered further awareness and willingness to accelerate the thinking on market pains and alternative approaches to tackle them by governments, being for the retail payment segment as well as for the corporate and institutional players.

Some governments want to play a leading role and help accelerate the adoption of tokenization. As always, in a nascent market with opportunities as well as big attention points and uncertainties, different governments might have different rationales to prioritize such initiatives or not.


What are the main regulatory challenges that are slowing down the adoption of cryptocurrencies? How to overcome those challenges?

Market players and regulators recognize the opportunities of cryptocurrencies, but there are significant risks, such as money laundering and financing of terrorism, volatility for investors, speculation, market manipulation, scams, and theft of private cryptographic keys.

As a consequence, case by case and by jurisdiction, market players need to take into account regulations concerning consumer protection and business practices, anti-trust, anti-money laundering and financing of terrorism, data protection and privacy, accounting and tax, financial and investment instruments, licenses, prohibition of some derivatives, etc.


As a professor, what is important for you to share with/teach to your students?

I have currently the privilege to lecture and coach smart and curious graduate students in financial markets and services at Solvay Brussels School of Economics and Management and Paris Dauphine.

I am committed to further stimulating their curiosity as well as their critical evaluation of opportunities and attention points, focusing on technology, regulation, and business model issues.

As a professor, a business angel advising and investing in fintech, and a former senior banking and insurance executive, my approach is to share my passion for banking and sustainable finance, as well as my extensive network of field experts for mutual benefit.

I hope that this helps my students ace their recruiting interviews (!) with incumbent financial services institutions, fintechs or regulation entities, broaden their perspective and consider contributing to and leading innovating projects challenging the status quo, so that finance can further contribute to a better world.