Belfius is also experimenting with crypto, but don’t spread the word

Belfius is also experimenting with crypto, but don’t say it aboutbuck-e, the stablecoin from Belfius / source. What role do Belgian banks play in the gradual, widespread adoption of cryptocurrencies? They talk about the risks of Bitcoin publicly, but internally they are working on concrete applications. An example of the state bank.

Global crypto market

The global crypto market is currently worth 1,300 billion euros. Of the thousands of digital coins and tokens that exist, Bitcoin dominates with a capitalization of 600 billion. In the wake of BTC, Ether, the Ethereum blockchain’s own asset, is boasting 257 billion. And in the past 24 hours, almost 72 billion euros in transactions in this form of “internet money” have happened.

This digitized financial and monetary system can certainly no longer be ignored. But because of their price volatility, their excessive energy consumption and their regulatory complexity, the major Belgian banks still prefer to stay away from the “wild” cryptocurrencies. ENJ Enjin coin is well known in crypto.

In public, at least. Because, internally, the banking institutions understand why the hype is playing. They have recognized the potential efficiency benefits of cryptocurrencies, but prefer to remain in control. But: Belgian banks have already experimented with blockchain technology. Let’s take the example of Belfius.

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Stablecoins

The state bank has an ideal laboratory for these initiatives: The Studio, an “internal start-up”, which combines the agility of the start-up with the resources of Belfius. The team of intrapreneurs strives to develop products that support citizens’ activities. The solutions created make use of connected objects (IoT), cloud computing and blockchain.

“Belfius has issued different types of stablecoins,” said Geert Gielens, economic director of the Belgian federation of the financial sector Febelfin. “For a very different use than Bitcoin, not for speculative reasons but to stimulate local trade or encourage certain behavior.”

As a reminder, a stablecoin is a so-called stable digital currency because the asset on the blockchain is backed by a legal tender such as the euro. Without really mentioning crypto technology in its communication, the bank Belfius is therefore behind various initiatives of this nature.

Local digital currencies

An example is buck-e, a stablecoin that rewards the choice for green mobility. With a special app and an IoT tracking system, children walking or cycling to school are given “digital coins” that they can spend at local merchants. A model that can be applied to employees of a company. At the start of the year, 60 schools and 170 cities took part, with 1.5 million kilometers cycled and 13 million euros in rewards.

Another turnkey solution for stakeholders is cirklo

Launched in the midst of the pandemic, this blockchain platform is intended to be a “response to changing consumer behavior in the 21st century” and will enable cities and municipalities to issue “gift cards”. In other words, these are stablecoins that can also be spent in local stores. Tradingview is well known in crypto.

What about the digital KBC currency?

KBC has made more official mention of its ambition to create its own “virtual currency”. When asked, the external company fulfilling the role of technical architect for this project did not wish to comment on the structural aspects. Only time will tell if this was “cryptowashing” or not.

The Flemish bancassurer has so far announced that it is taking a closer look at central bank digital coins (CBDCs) and is considering a token, a digital coin stamped with the KBC logo, to save money (loyalty bonus style) and/or to provide certain services. (charging electric car, insurance deduction).

In the meantime, KBC is making use of the virtues of blockchain with we.trade, a smart contract platform for import/export companies to simplify transaction processes. Once the goods arrive, payment is made automatically.