With new developments in cryptocurrency and an increasing number of institutions adopting it, the lines between traditional and digital finance is slowly blurring, according to experts at Investopia — a two-day conference that kicked off in Abu Dhabi on Wednesday.

“Today, most of the major financial institutions are participating in the industry,” said Eric Anzinai, President and COO of Crypto.com while speaking at a panel discussion. “The Bitcoin ETF launch in January has been a tremendous development and it is the fastest growing ETF across all asset classes. We are very surprised by the uptick.”

A platform that connects the global investment community with investment opportunities, Investopia is designed for those wishing to benefit from the UAE’s future-focused economy. In its first two editions, Investopia brought together more than 3,000 participants from 58 different countries, more than 500 C-suite executives, and financial institutions representing more than $500 billion of assets under management.

According to Anzinai, one of the most helpful use of new technology has been for payment settlements. “Companies like Visa and Mastercard have been using digital assets to settle payment with their partners,” he said.

Gautam Sharma, CEO and CIO of Brevan Howard Digital added that there was a reason why these companies are adopting new technology so readily. “It takes Visa more than two days to settle cross-border transactions at the back end,” he said. “Imagine the cost of capital that is locked over two or three days with 11,000 participants.”

Removing intermediaries

Gautam claimed that blockchain will disrupt traditional finance more than how much internet has disrupted retail. “The biggest power of blockchain technology is that it removes intermediaries,” he said. “It also allows any business transaction to be coded on smart contracts that can run in any part of the world without any manual intervention. Thirdly, it is available 24/7. These are three characteristics of blockchain technology that will disrupt traditional finance.”

Blockchain is a decentralised ledger that consists of a chain of blocks with each block containing a set of data. It records information in such a way that is almost impossible to hack or manipulate.

He said blockchain is being used for real world tokenisation. “Some statistics state that around $2.8 billion of real world assets are being tokenised of which 800 million is of US treasuries,” he said. Tokenisation is a process of issuing a digital representation of an asset on a blockchain and is expected to grow exponentially over the next couple of years.

Future is exciting

Eric said the future looked bright for various aspects of digital finance, especially in tokenisation. “It is going to be where the value is going to be created,” he said. “It is estimated that the industry will be $16 trillion by 2030. There are massive opportunities there. I feel like it will be focused on tokenisation of financial assets.”

Jenny Zeng, Managing Partner at MSA Capital, said that she was looking forward to the intersection of two digital disruptors. “We are waiting for the next wave of digital economy where digital currency will meet AI,” she said. “I think it will bring about a lot of opportunities.”


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