The rise of digital assets has helped reshape the financial system in recent years. But application of the underlying blockchain technology is yet to reach its full potential - one which could see it serve as the “invisible engine” driving all financial services.
That’s the view of ANZ Manager Industry and Innovation Cindy He, who told ANZ Institutional on podcast she thinks the technology has the potential to improve efficiency in the financial services industry in a way end users may not fully appreciate – or even notice.
“While customers may be using blockchain in the future, they may not even realise it from the front-end experience,” she said. “But in the back end, blockchain is very likely to become the invisible engine that will [power] all those well-known efficiencies of 24 seven on demand real time settlements.”
Speaking alongside ANZ Banking Services Lead Nigel Dobson, Cindy He said the tokenisation of global illiquid assets had the potential to unlock trillions of dollars in value.
“Real-world assets that previously couldn’t be traded – if you tokenise them, represent them on blockchain so they can be easily exchanged on a global basis, you can unlock so much value,” she said.
“New lines of collateral. New lines of revenue. New business models. It’s really interesting to see what may come up in the next couple of years in terms of new use cases, new applications, [and the] different industries and sectors that could really leverage this.”
You can listen to an edited version of the conversation on podcast below.
Dobson said the maturity of the digital asset market was growing as more action in the sector moved from theory to practice.
“I think the sophistication of the market has increased,” Dobson said.
“We’re seeing more collaboration between banks, but also between central banks and banks, and other related parties.”
“The sophistication of conversations we’re having, particularly with regulators now, has gone up almost exponentially.”
Cindy He agreed, noting a rise in “collaborative research and testing and learning” between the public and private sectors around distributed ledger technology.
This collaboration is “an extremely important way of learning where the gaps are and what plugs we need to fill in,” she said.
In Australia, the Reserve Bank of Australia, along with the Digital Finance Cooperative Research Centre, ran a pilot program in 2023 which focussed on the innovative potential of digital assets, specifically around central bank digital currencies.
Dobson said the pilot RBA project showed the potential for digital assets to provide real, practical improvement in financial services.
“Not only are we talking about possible and conceptual regulation and concepts and pilots, but rather actually doing real, live transactions - in albeit a controlled environment,” he said.
Amid that collaboration, businesses who step into the space are already seeing the advantages provided by digital-asset transactions, Dobson said.
The benefits being realised “from a blockchain-based, tokenisation-based transaction versus a more traditional clearing and settlement transaction is really important”, he said.
“What we're saying now is that we can put a payment and an asset transaction on exactly the same [type of] infrastructure,” Dobson said. "They can be both tokenised… and they can clear and settle instantaneously.”
Dobson said ANZ’s work in the space has made it clear the operational efficiency tokenised transactions provide.
“And we're getting many more customers who are going, ‘wow, I'd like to do that with my supply chain, or my assets or… some of the problems I'm looking to solve,” he said.
Dobson said the tokenisation of nature-based assets was a growing area of interest – and opportunity – for market participants.
“The emerging asset class of nature-based assets, including carbon credits, biodiversity, [and] in Australia, reef credits, are becoming really important,” he said.
“Those types of assets are gaining traction. But the financial market infrastructure that supports them today is [inefficient].”
Banks like ANZ have an opportunity to “transform that customer experience” in that area, Dobson said, giving their customers “visibility, in terms of the provenance of the projects that generate these credits”.
“And then we can tokenise that and put all those credentials on a token. We really think that's a huge space for us to explore going forward.”
Trust in the security of the technology among participants is critical to its success, according to Cindy He, which is something large banks like ANZ are uniquely equipped to ensure.
“It's really important for our customers to know when they're entering this space, they can trust the provider who is giving them that access into this world,” she said.
“I think ANZ being proactive in this space, building the [services] that can allow entry into the digital assets economy, is highly valued by our customers”.
Dobson said ANZ had gone through operational risk assessments around the tokenisation of assets.
“We've got our risk function fully on board with the types of transactions that we're doing,” he said.
The experts also addressed common barriers to digital asset adoption. Listen to the podcast above to find out more.
Shane White is Editor at ANZ Institutional Insights
This note reflects the edited version of the conversation as it appears on the podcast.
As the US and China’s tit-for-tat innovation policies shore up strategically critical industries, one expert is wondering which sector is next in their sights.2023-11-02 00:00
This publication is published by Australia and New Zealand Banking Group Limited ABN 11 005 357 522 (“ANZBGL”) in Australia. This publication is intended as thought-leadership material. It is not published with the intention of providing any direct or indirect recommendations relating to any financial product, asset class or trading strategy. The information in this publication is not intended to influence any person to make a decision in relation to a financial product or class of financial products. It is general in nature and does not take account of the circumstances of any individual or class of individuals. Nothing in this publication constitutes a recommendation, solicitation or offer by ANZBGL or its branches or subsidiaries (collectively “ANZ”) to you to acquire a product or service, or an offer by ANZ to provide you with other products or services. All information contained in this publication is based on information available at the time of publication. While this publication has been prepared in good faith, no representation, warranty, assurance or undertaking is or will be made, and no responsibility or liability is or will be accepted by ANZ in relation to the accuracy or completeness of this publication or the use of information contained in this publication. ANZ does not provide any financial, investment, legal or taxation advice in connection with this publication.