Managing director of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) Christine Lagarde has recently published two blog posts on cryptocurrencies, describing disadvantages of digital assets and benefits they could provide.
The major issue with cryptocurrencies, which makes them dangerous in Lagard’s opinion, is bypassing central banks and an element of anonymity, that put cryptocurrency transactions in the same category like cash transactions. This can allow certain people to use cryptocurrencies as a tool for money laundering and terrorism financing.
Another issue is extreme price volatility of digital assets due to immaturity of cryptocurrency markets. Owing to links with the traditional financial world, crypto markets shocks can cause disturbances in the financial system.
Also, with more than 1,600 digital assets in circulation, it seems inevitable that many will not survive the process of creative destruction.
However, cryptocurrencies can provide great benefits as well. They enable fast and inexpensive financial transactions, while offering some of the cash convenience.
Distributed ledger technology (DLT), the underlying technology of digital assets, can be used to speed up information sharing between market participants and regulators. DLT could help financial markets to function more efficiently. Self-executing smart contracts could eliminate the need for some intermediaries.
In Lagard’s view, the fintech revolution will not completely eliminate the need for trusted intermediaries, such as brokers and bankers, but she hopes decentralized applications, spurred by cryptocurrencies, will lead to a diversification of the financial landscape, better balance between centralized and decentralized services, and financial ecosystem that is more efficient and potentially robust to resisting threats.
As the IMF head, Lagarde’s words weigh heavily on monetary policies in different countries. Her positive remarks may invigorate some countries in their efforts to adopt blockchain technology and cryptocurrencies, and push cryptocurrency sceptics to change their mind.
Before she was assigned to the current post in IMF in 2011, Christine Lagarde had taken on various ministerial posts in the French government, including Minister of Economic Affairs, Finance and Employment, Agriculture and Fishing, and Minister of Trade. In 2017 Lagarde was ranked the 8th most powerful woman in the world by Forbes magazine.