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ASEAN regulators ramp up blockchain adoption as tech expands beyond crypto: analysts

More banks and institutions are exploring its use for payments and cross-border transfers.

The use of blockchain technology beyond cryptocurrency has increasingly become more mainstream, spurring ASEAN regulators to broaden its adoption throughout financial markets, analysts said in a webinar hosted by Maybank Kim Eng.

Maybank Kim Eng Research noted that user adoption of cryptocurrencies appears to already be outpacing that of the internet, “a trend that we believe investors should pay attention to.” Even as Bitcoin prices tanked in May, blockchain data shows signs of institutional buying on the dip. 

Blockchain technology will also be pushed further into the mainstream as more banks and financial institutions explore its use beyond cryptocurrency use and into payments and cross-border transfers, Maybank Kim Eng added.

“Blockchain has clearly catalysed regulatory development. We have seen ASEAN regulators actively addressing the adoption of blockchain in financial services, as well as for corporate fundraising. The underlying policy consideration has ranged from being focused on investor protection to being facilitative,” Nizam Ismail, founder and CEO of Singapore-based compliance-focused firm, Ethikom Consultancy, said in Maybank Kim Eng’s webinar “Crypto Opportunities & Hurdles” on 15 July.

The advent of digital banks will only further accelerate the adoption of blockchain tech beyond cryptocurrencies, said Chia Hock-Lai, co-chairman of the Blockchain Association.

Expansions of the use of blockchain tech include the rise of non-fungible tokens (NFT), decentralised finance and the tokenization of real-world assets, Chia added. Sankalap Shangari, managing director of Algorithma, echoed the same.

“Use cases are growing and will continue to grow. People are jumping on NFTs for art and music creation, but you can make an NFT of every property or every stock in the world.  Everything that is unique is an NFT, by definition it is a unique token,” Sankalp said. 

Already, cryptocurrency markets across ASEAN have already taken off, observed Aaron Tang, country manager of a cryptocurrency exchange in Luno. In 2021, Tang said that they regularly see days where thousands of new customers are signing up for their platform.

Photo courtesy of Sajad Nori

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