It was a great pleasure for me to contribute to Roland Eller’s, Markus Heinrich’s and Maik Schober’s latest, much acclaimed publication ”Investing money like the pros”.
As co-authors, Christoph Impekoven and Jochen Werne reflected on the topic ”The world’s most important currency”.
DO THE SAME RULES APPLY TO CENTRAL BANK AND CRYPTOCURRENCIES WHEN IT COMES TO MONETARY STABILITY? AND HOW DOES AN INVESTOR RECOGNISE THE SAFE HAVEN IN THE CRYPTO WORLD?
In this article, the authors want to show and delineate the differences between stablecoins in particular and “fiat” currencies in general. After reading this article, you will know what a stablecoin is, what types there are, how it differs from the US dollar or the euro, and why the most important currency in all worlds is “trust”.
FIND OUT MORE IN THE NEW BOOK
The financial market offers numerous opportunities to achieve returns with manageable risk. For anyone who wants to take advantage of these opportunities and make long-term provisions, Geldanlage wie die Profis (Investing like the Pros) offers the knowledge and proven strategies of more than 25 renowned authors, which can be easily transferred to private investment.
On the one hand, the most important topics for beginners are covered: How do you find the right risk class for you? How beginner-friendly are shares, funds and ETFs? What tax issues need to be considered? On the other hand, the current megatrends are explained – alternative energies, cryptocurrencies and the real estate boom – where are high profits to be made, where does risk predominate? An indispensable guide for anyone who wants to make more out of their savings in the long term.
Published on 11 January 2023 at Springer Professional – Follow this LINK to original text in German. Translation created with deepL.com
Experts quoted in the article: Stefan Behringer, Leef H. Dierks, Florian Follert, Jochen Werne, Dr. Johannes Winter, Joachim Wurmeling
What distinguishes so-called stablecoins from cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin, Ether & Co? By linking to one or more currencies, this form of digital money forms a bridge to classic FIAT currencies. How this works and where problems lurk is shown in our “Compact explained”.
Stablecoins are digital tokens, assets of private issuers that can also take on money functions. According to Leef H. Dierks, they usually replicate the value of a reserve currency, such as the US dollar, or even a whole bundle of official currencies.
Thus, they do not have to represent a claim on the issuer (the reserve currency) itself, but can also be backed by demand deposits of various currencies, securities or other assets. This so-called peg reduces the volatility of stablecoins compared to classic virtual currencies, such as Bitcoin,” writes the Springer author in the book chapter “Virtual Currencies and Monetary Policy” on page 234.
According to Dierks, stablecoins take on a bridging function to fiat currencies, “especially since, as long as they are backed by legal tender, they do not challenge the currency monopoly of central banks (analogous to bank deposits) at any time”.
Stablecoins make new business models possible
According to a thesis paper by the Landesbank Baden-Württemberg (LBBW) from mid-December 2022, stablecoins do open up new business models. At the same time, however, they are “anything but stable, but are subject to the risk of the holders fleeing from them if there are doubts about their collateralisation”. Digital money may have a negative impact on macroeconomic lending and reduce the influence of central banks on the aggregate money supply. One way to regulate it is to require issuers to hold central bank reserves.
The best-known stablecoin project is Tether, which is pegged one-to-one to the US dollar. “There has been repeated criticism of Tether, so that the company behind the issue has since admitted to using not only currency holdings in US dollars to collateralise the issued units of cryptocurrencies, but also other assets (for example, commercial papers of companies),” Stefan Behringer and Florian Follert describe the background in the book chapter “Controlling of cryptocurrencies” (page 187). This also explains why this stablecoin does not correlate exactly with the performance of the US dollar.
Risks of stablecoins
Jochen Werne and Johannes Winter explain in the book chapter “Cash, book money, cryptocurrencies and the digital euro” on page 84 that there are risks for the financial sector if stablecoins become widespread. They could undermine the banks’ deposit business and their business models. The Springer authors see in the central bank cash-backed stablecoins a possibility of a trustworthy transitional solution in hybrid form. This is a stablecoin that demonstrably holds any digital twin in the form of central bank money.
“Due to the tradability of the tokens, the flexibility of book money is paired with the guarantee of physical central bank money. Even the expected damage from a successful attack on the underlying blockchain could thus be minimised, since an unlawful acquisition of power of disposal over assets is quickly restricted in its usability. A regulated expert function guarantees that only central bank money or a digital twin is traded and thus the central supervisory function always lies with the central bank,” say Werne and Winter.
MiCA forms future legal framework
With the Markets in Crypto Assets (MiCA) regulation, the European Union has sewn a legal garment for the crypto industry in the 26 EU states. The new EU regulation is to enter into force by the beginning of 2023 and become effective 18 months later vis-à-vis all market participants.
“MiCA responds to the growth of the cryptoasset ecosystem and integrates a large number of new players into the European supervisory space,” explains Joachim Wurmeling, member of the Executive Board of the Deutsche Bundesbank, in a guest article on the occasion of the Bundesbank Symposium in November 2022. “In future, crypto service providers and issuers of crypto assets will not only have to ensure that the risks arising from the cryptoasset business are adequately managed; they will also have to apply for authorisation to issue crypto assets or to provide crypto services and be subject to ongoing supervision.”
In addition, he said, the regulation also applies to traditional financial institutions that provide services around cryptoassets. The regulatory approach for MiCA is new and is emerging alongside the traditional structure.
The participants of the seminar acquire knowledge that enables them as decision-makers to understand projects that are to use blockchain technology more quickly, to recognise opportunities and risks and to evaluate them together with experts.
It is a pleasure for me, as Managing Director of Prosegur Crypto GmbH, to support the seminar together with other leading blockchain experts such as Christoph Impekoven (micobo), Markus Honvehlmann (micobo), Dr. Marc Henniges (d-fine), Dr. Timo Bernau (GSK), Lucas Zaehringer (verity) and Cara Reuner (Ecota) to train banking experts to create future innovative use cases. We will discuss:
Central Bank Digital Money – Stable Coins
For more details please refer to the website of BZ-Live: https://www.bzlive.de/veranstaltung/1606//
After a challenging 2022 this year ends with HOPE due to a rally of technological innovation breakthroughs. Technological progress has the potential to help address many of the challenges facing the world today, including the energy crisis, the need for better education, and financial inclusion. Three of them shall be brought to your attention: 1. CLEAN ENERGY – Breakthrough in nuclear fusion technology; 2. EDUCATION – ChatGPT is changing the way to experience artificial intelligence; 3. PRIVACY & FINANCIAL INCLUSION – New compliant pathways for privacy and security in the blockchain-based financial ecosystem
Breakthrough in nuclear fusion technology
One area where technology is helping to address the energy crisis is through the development of nuclear fusion as a potential source of clean, abundant energy. Nuclear fusion is a process in which atomic nuclei combine to release energy, and it has the potential to provide a virtually limitless source of energy with low carbon emissions. While significant progress has been made in developing fusion technology, it is still in the early stages of development and has not yet been fully commercialized. However, the potential for nuclear fusion to help address the energy crisis makes it a promising area of research and development.
In December 2022 the National Ignition Facility (NIF) has successfully sparked a fusion reaction that released more energy than went into it. Even though there’s still a long way to go toward fusion as a clean energy source, this step can be considered as a major step forward.
ChatGPT changes the way you experience artificial intelligence
ChatGPT, also known as OpenAI’s GPT-3 Chatbot API, is a natural language processing (NLP) tool developed by OpenAI. It is based on the GPT-3 model, which is a large, advanced AI language model that is capable of generating human-like text.
Overall, ChatGPT is changing the way we experience and interact with AI by making it easier to build and deploy chatbot applications that can understand and respond to user input in a natural, human-like way.
ChatGPT can be used to build chatbots and other NLP applications that can understand and respond to user input in a natural, human-like way. It is designed to be easy to use and integrate into existing systems, allowing developers to quickly build and deploy chatbot applications without the need for extensive training data.
One advantage of ChatGPT is its ability to understand and respond to a wide range of inputs and topics. It is trained on a large dataset of text and has the ability to generate coherent and contextually appropriate responses to a variety of inputs. This can make it a useful tool for building chatbots and other NLP applications that need to handle a wide range of queries and topics.
New compliant pathways for privacy and security in the blockchain-based financial ecosystem
Innovation in blockchain privacy can bring a number of advantages to the financial ecosystem, particularly in terms of increasing the security and confidentiality of transactions. By combining this innovation with a 100% collateralized stablecoin, it is possible to create a more secure and stable digital currency that can be used for a wide range of financial transactions.
One advantage of using a 100% collateralized coin is that it is pegged to a specific asset, such as a fiat currency or commodity, which helps to stabilize its value and reduce price volatility. This can make it more attractive to users, as it reduces the risk of loss due to price fluctuations. The German Digital Cash GmbH just announced to have issued the first 100% compliant, central-bank-money-backed, Made in Germany, Euro-coin on UniSwap, called Digital Cash Euro (DCEUR). READ MORE ON THE DCEUR HERE
In terms of privacy, a blockchain-based stablecoin that incorporates innovative privacy features can help to protect the confidentiality of transactions by making it more difficult for outsiders to track and monitor them. This can be particularly useful for financial institutions and individuals.
Researchers from German crypto blockchain-based payments fintech etonec and other organizations have proposed using zero-knowledge proofs to ensure regulatory compliance and privacy in stablecoins. They have created a design that allows fiat-based stablecoins to be used like cash, within limits.
Overall, the combination of a 100% collateralized stablecoin with innovative privacy features can bring a number of benefits to the financial ecosystem, including increased security, stability, and confidentiality.
Overall, technological progress has the potential to help address many of the challenges facing the world today, and it will likely continue to play a crucial role in finding solutions to these problems in the future.
December 2022 seems to be a good month in this respect. A month that shall give hope.
It was a great pleasure to meet again personally and be connected virtually with friends like Dr. Andreas Heindl and Dr. Johannes Winter who, like many others inside and outside this Digital Summit, dedicate their passion to the digitisation of Germany day after day. Their passion is the engine for Germany’s competitiveness and prosperity. Exchanges like today between Germany’s leading experts in the field of digitalisation and the German government are crucial for the country’s future innovation.
This was underlined today by Federal Chancellor Olaf Scholz and the ministers Robert Habeck, Volker Wissing, Nancy Faeser and Bettina Stark-Watzinger. A special motivation was given by Estonian Prime Minister Kaja Kallas and Japan’s Digital Minister Tarō Konō.
Congratulations to the organization committee and thank you for the kind invitation. Details can be found HERE
Digital Summit 2022
Germany’s digitisation continues to remain one of the main topics of the German government. The aim is to accelerate and promote digitisation processes and to exploit their potential to develop prosperity, freedom, social participation, and sustainability.
In this context, the Digital Summit remains the central platform for shaping the digital transformation with all parties involved. It focuses on the key fields of action within the digital transformation across ten topic-based platforms. The platforms and their focus groups are made up of representatives from business, academia and society who, between summit meetings, work together to develop projects, events and initiatives designed to drive digitisation in business and society forward. The Summit will serve to present the results of the work that has been done in the past, to highlight new trends and discuss digital challenges and policy approaches.
This year’s Digital Summit of the Federal Government will be held on 8 and 9 December 2022. The Federal Ministry for Digital and Transport and the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Climate Action will jointly coordinate the summit’s preparation in the future. In the new legislature, new formats, concrete results and international impulses are to make it the driving force and showcase for digitisation in Germany and beyond.
In their historical-social debate “Cash, book money, cryptocurrencies and the digital euro“ on money in the digital age in the book “Praxisbeispiele der Digitalisierung” (Practical Examples of Digitalisation) published by Springer Gabler Verlag, the co-authors Jochen Werne and Johannes Winter use historical examples to show the interconnectedness of various actors in the cycle of our money today.
Read an excerpt of chapter 9.3.1. on the historical role of CIT – cash in transit here:
Making money available and the central role of cash-in-transit logistics
In the case of cash, the person concerned has direct, unrestricted physical power of disposal over his money in the form of coins or banknotes. However, the fact that this is not yet given when the money is minted or printed in bank vaults, but only when it is delivered to the owner, is of crucial importance. To illustrate the importance of this step and thus also the role of the transport of money and valuables, a historical event from the Rotschild Archives can be used.
„The Rothschilds supplied the Duke of Wellington with gold during the Napoleonic Wars and saved Wellington’s armies from almost certain defeat. Between 1793 and 1815, Britain was almost continuously at war with France, which placed an enormous burden on the British treasury. By 1813, Wellington’s armies had managed to push the French back as far as the Pyrenees, but the financial situation had become critical. Wellington desperately needed gold and silver coins that he could exchange locally to pay and feed his troops and thus maintain morale. J.C. Herries, the British government’s chief commissioner, was responsible for financing and equipping the British armies in the field. Herries was looking for a middleman who could secretly procure large quantities of gold without alerting the French. In January 1814 he officially engaged Nathan Mayer Rothschild. Over the previous five years Nathan had built up an extensive network of couriers, dealers, brokers and bankers to facilitate his gold trading activities. Over time, he had established a dominant position as a gold broker in the City of London. After receiving the commission from Herries, Nathan instructed his brothers on the Continent to buy gold wherever they could, secretly and in small quantities so as not to disturb the market. Once the gold was gathered, it was shipped and forwarded to Wellington in the south of France so that he could pay his troops” (Rothschild Archives 2021).
Alongside many small and medium-sized players, the three corporations Prosegur, Brinks and Loomis dominate the main part of the consolidating world market for cash and cash-in-transit. By supplying retailers, banks and private individuals via ATMs and branches, as well as repatriating funds, the industry ensures that the cash cycle is maintained and that each individual’s power of disposal over cash is upheld.
In the midst of these crazy times, most industries still haven’t gotten their shit together. However, a few bright minds managed to understand the paradigm shift, act accordingly and reap the rewards. So, Catharina van Delden and Bente Zehan talked to some of them! Join us on our learning journey over the next few weeks to see how completely unrelated industries deal very differently with the same challenges we all share – and let’s become better together!
Jochen Werne is Prosegur’s Chief Development and Chief Visionary Officer since 2019. Before that, he worked at different banks, most recently as a director of the German Bankhaus Lenz & Co. Since the beginning of 2022, he is also the managing director of Prosegur Crypto, which is applying for a crypto custody license in Germany.
The Madrid-based company Prosegur offers different security services worldwide. They’re most famous for their cash-in-transit services, with more than 50% market share in Germany. In recent years, Prosegur has explored ways to provide digital security services based on its long experience in a non-digital world.
How do you develop new business models and drive innovation within a company that makes its money with a very traditional business model like cash-in-transit?
I would like to jump right in with a personal example: Before I joined Prosegur in 2019, I had a career in banking. When you work in treasury, you have a lot of money you need to invest. As a bank, we were engaged in the investment business and in our case, most of the money had to be invested in the short term, unfortunately within a negative interest rate environment throughout the last years. So, the best solution would have been to put your money under the mattress instead of in a bank account. When I joined Prosegur, I explained this pain point and we discussed how we could solve this problem for treasurers. Since anything which has fewer costs than 0,5% is considered profit for a treasurer, we offered asset managers, high net worth individuals, and banks custody of short-term liquidity fully insured and compliant in our high-security facilities.
You’re in the security sector. From another conversation I recall you talking a lot about feeling safe vs. actually being safe – an image Catharina and I discussed before starting this series. Our example is a house standing by a cliff, with that a giant tsunami arriving. Instead of thinking about how to relocate, many industries seem to wonder about putting solar panels on the roof and perhaps repainting. Both are valid things to do – however, perhaps they’d have a different focus if they had zoomed out. Is that also a topic within your company, and how do you handle such problems?
This is how new business models and innovations can emerge: You have to take a different perspective, look at other people’s problems and find solutions based on your own experience and knowledge. That is an excellent picture. And if you take that into account, I think also from a psychological point of view, we live in our bubbles. Let’s take, for example, the phenomenon of social media: You “privately” click a like button, watch a video, or comment on a post without really knowing how much this very private behavioral data is influencing an algorithm (which in the best case just targets you as a potential buyer of a certain product). After all, you are only doing it “privately” – but you’re not! If you were to zoom out, you’re back at your tsunami example. It happens in everyday discussions, from climate change to energy crises. Sometimes, people take a point of view and go blindly in one direction. If you’re able to zoom out, you’re also able to change your behavior and find many more solutions to problems.
When making decisions and discussing innovations, it’s important to accept that you yourself are not able to see the whole picture. And based on that, you should go into discussions with an open mind – without thinking you’re completely right and cannot learn anything from the others. Innovation can only happen when people think outside the box, try to understand the whole picture, make new connections, and then act on their new insights.
Business leaders also need to ask themselves how they can innovate. Do they talk about the future, about what they need to create, and how it is no longer the same? Or are they just pushing to quickly return to their classic KPI models, missing the direction the rest of the world is moving in?
How do you take actions from the big picture and implement them? Basically, how do you zoom in again?
Prosegur works in an industry with low-profit margins. We can never sit back and say, “Yes, we have a wonderful company here, everything is going great!” It is labor-intensive work with – obviously – high labor costs.
So we can’t afford to be just visionary; we also need to focus on the essentials. We need justified results every month. Therefore, more than in other sectors, the rule is: if you deliver results, people will listen to you. It’s also part of my job to enthuse people and help them understand new concepts. But I wouldn’t say that’s purely related to my role; anyone in a leadership position should see it that way. Prosegur is a big matrix organization, so you have to use your network to move things forward.
In security, there are a lot of processes with rigid security protocols that won’t be changed in an agile approach quickly and easily. But with other and industry-adequate means the teams are improving efficiency every day.
How do you go about that?
People have to be trained. Otherwise, it won’t work. You have to get people to change. But don’t be surprised that the goal will never be achieved 100% because you will never get everyone to embrace change. Resistance to change within the individual is far too great and it’s very often just too convenient to stay in the comfort zone.
I would like to come back to your example of the house on a cliff. I have seen people who’ve ended up in a disaster professionally because they didn’t want to or were afraid to go into action. You have to be open-minded and sometimes even force yourself out of your personal comfort zone.
You founded Prosegur Crypto GmbH – a business model that to the untrained eye has little to do with your core business: cash. In convincing your board this is a relevant thing to do what are your learnings regarding the degree decision-makers need to understand new technology? Should everyone become a super tech expert?
I don’t ask the whole company’s management to be full experts on all technologies. That’s impossible. But please – as a responsible decision-maker – understand the leading technologies existing in this world! For example, as a banker, you should understand the concept behind blockchain. Of course, this is very technological, and most people can’t explain it in a good manner, but you must understand it. To better understand, decision-makers should have a “new-in-tech” training every couple of months, besides all the usual management training.
So, my appeal to every business leader is: Take your time and try to at least get the gist of things. You should understand what technology can and cannot do, and not just follow your daily headlines. The second part is to really listen to your existing experts whom you pay to know all the details. They need to be at the table and give their input to assess the next useful steps.
Lastly, we’ve talked a lot about networks. What are your best practices regarding this?
It is one of my favorite topics! First of all, you need to know that networks have not just existed since social media came into existence but have always existed. Network organizations have always brought – likewise interested – people together. Unfortunately, also on this topic, we do have to step out of our comfort zones to broaden our perspective. Otherwise, our networks take us as prisoners and we are as the known proverb says birds of the same feather who flock together.
There is very good literature on networks: like “The Square and the Tower” by Niall Ferguson or “The Starfish and the Spider” by Ori Brafman and Rod Beckstrom. Everyone should read these books.
Tl;dr for the lazy
• People live in their bubbles and make themselves too comfortable within them, even if it sets them up to fail. It’s important that companies (and we as a society) zoom out to see the bigger picture. • Innovation and new business development can only happen if you combine your own experiences and opinions with other points of view. • Companies need to go beyond just recreating and reusing what has already worked for them. They should start asking questions and finding solutions that truly bring them on the right paths into the future. Even or especially if that means that they need to get out of their “safe space” (which is not so safe after all). • Instead of judging ideas and innovations as being “good or bad”, look at what they “can and cannot do” • You need to train and communicate openly with people to overcome the resistance towards change.
28 February 2021 published in the current issue of the magazine gi Geldinstitute
For the trade magazine gi Geldinstitute, leading experts answered Stefanie Walter’s questions on the topic of “Process Mining at Banks”. Jochen Werne – Prosegur Germany, Gerrit von der Hardt – TARGO Dienstleistungs, Sebastian Hennerici – Aareal Bank AG, Gerrit Meier – Hanseatic Bank GmbH & Co KG, Thorsten Briest – PSD Bank Braunschweig eG, Christian Meusel – Berliner Volksbank eG, André H. Burger – Synpulse Management Consulting
Professional know-how and the right feeling for changing customer needs are essential factors in being able to innovatively develop needs-based solutions for our customers.
The entire roundtable talk in the current print edition or soon online at www.Geldinstitute.de
On Tuesday, November 5, 2019, Managing Director Dr. Stefan Hirschmann and his team from VÖB-Services organised an inspiring BANKENNETZWERK networking event “Digitisation and digital competence in banks” with an auditorium of 70 banking professionals.
Learning from history is crucial to understand the current societal changes triggered by technological progress. It‘s the basis to be able to make smart strategic decisions in a fundamentally changing business environment.
Some examples in the keynote referring to Professor Niall Ferguson‘s inspiring book „The Square and the Tower“. Enjoy some of his insights here
The “cobra effect” is a prime example of failed incentive structures. Good governance in banks and savings banks must serve stability and flexibility at the same time. Compliance with four principles is indispensable.
Well-intentioned is not well done yet. Science calls this the cobra effect. It goes back to an event when India was still a British colony. In order to control a cobra plague, a British governor placed a bounty on every snake that he killed. With the result that enterprising Indians began to breed cobras to collect the bounty. When the governor learned of this practice, he had the program stopped and the breeders released the snakes. Result: The problem had multiplied.
The Kobra effect is regarded as a prime example of failed incentive structures – and thus of failed governance. This word, derived from the French “governance” for government, is often used today, and with its almost inflationary mention, the blur surrounding it is also growing.
So let us recall: governance refers to the structures and forms of governance that exist in a society. This refers to the interaction between the state, the private sector and interest groups. The aim is to improve the management of an organisation or a political or social unit in order to achieve better results.
Stability as an objective of governance
However, it has become common practice to use governance primarily when it is not a question of state structures. For example, the term plays an important role in practically all companies that deal with the public in the form of customers or stakeholders. As a result of the blurred use of the term, case studies from politics are often used today to explain economic frameworks.
Undoubtedly, there are many parallels between the governance of states and the governance of private companies, in their structure and processes and thus also in their form of governance. The decisive factor for both is first and foremost stability and thus the ability to cope with major crises. For states, the core of stability is the constitution, which enables leadership during the crisis and at the same time serves as the basis for a way out of the crisis. A current example of this is the national crisis in Austria. The government has failed; until the next elections a transitional government of experts will lead the country and thus guarantee stability. Around this core, however, a state structure must also have a certain flexibility in order to be able to react to developments.
Stability plus flexibility
And this is where the differences to the private sector begin. States are not in competition with the private sector and generally continue to exist even after crises, even if in extreme cases the political system and its fundamental form of governance may change. The situation is different for companies. Of course, they also need a stable core. But they must be extremely flexible and adapt to market situations in order to survive in the long term. Their stability is based on the flexibility of the process organisation. When it comes to flexibility, smaller companies often have an advantage over large, difficult-to-maneuver corporations. We see this in the financial services industry with the example of FinTechs and InsurTechs. However, these relatively small companies often lack the stability they need to survive when consolidating.
Let’s take the example of the banking industry: It faces clear challenges – digitization, new competing business models, exponential technology leaps and ever shorter product cycles with lower margins and increasing regulation. Sustainable answers and the resulting strategies will only be found by those houses that are stable in themselves on the one hand, but are also capable of a degree of flexibility that has never been demanded of them in history on the other.
Four principles of good governance
But how does a company obtain the necessary stability? There are four principles for good, i.e. successful, governance, which must always be present:
Accountability: There must be an organization that is controllable and controlled. Accountability: The company as a whole and each individual employee are accountable for their actions. Openness: Only when employees, customers and stakeholders understand what is happening is transparency actually lived out. Fairness: Ethical conduct is one of the foundations for long-term value creation.
Governance must be lived
In order to achieve a satisfactory situation for both sides, the four principles of governance are indispensable. However, it is not enough to lay them down in statutes; they must also be lived by each individual.
In addition, the current major transformation issues, which not only the banks but also the entire economy have seized, should be seen as an opportunity for companies with a consolidated governance structure and remind us of a statement by the Roman philosopher Seneca, who said: “Only the tree that has been constantly exposed to gusts of wind is firm and strong, because in battle its roots are consolidated and strengthened”.