Dubai, United Arab Emirates, Wednesday 23 March 2022
FRA partners Bhavin Shah, Stephen Millington and Charlie Steele moderated various panels during the Finance Today Summit held in Dubai, UAE. The overarching theme was around the market and regulatory disruption brought by Decentralized Finance (crypto, digital assets...etc).
The "Digital Transformation of Finance" discussion moderated by Bhavin Shah examined the constant innovations and fundamental shifts in consumer behaviours forcing traditional banking players to change their way of doing business, but also bringing new risks related to unregulated solutions.
Charlie Steele then discussed with his co-panelists if "we can really go bankless". A majority concurred that while banks will expand their services and may even become tech companies themselves, sanctions and AML regulations are not going away. Some called for "responsible innovation" and "responsible use of technology", with a focus on educating consumers on what is being offered.
These views were also shared by the panel discussing "(Ce+De) Fi - How will tech enable this equation". The consensus was that although blockchain technology is still relatively new, the efficiency of DeFi protocols is such that, in a few years, banks themselves will use the blockchain technology to back their services, and that we will witness a "tokenization" of traditional assets.
It is this very "tokenization of assets" that the "Future of Lending" panel led by Stephen Millington saw as a means for DeFi to further develop through using these as collateral for lending. In any case, AML and KYC regulations are still required for DeFi to become a mainstream product. As a matter of fact, the last panel on "Decentralized Finance - Risk, Compliance and Opportunities" moderated by Charlie Steele largely concurred that there is no conflict between DeFi and regulatory compliance and that regulations are coming. Some panellists agreed that engagement with regulators upfront where possible would actually be the best posture to enable authorities to regulate the DeFi space efficiently.