Circle, Uniswap Research Says DeFi Can Solve $2T FX Risk Problem

A paper by researchers at the digital-assets firms says DeFi and blockchain technology could also reduce cross-border remittances costs by $30 billion a year.

AccessTimeIconJan 18, 2023 at 11:01 p.m. UTC
Updated Jan 19, 2023 at 4:41 p.m. UTC

Every day, about $2.2 trillion in foreign-exchange (FX) transactions carry a risk that the yet-to-be settled side of an agreement won’t meet obligations. But a new paper from Circle Internet Financial and decentralized exchange Uniswap Labs finds that a distributed ledger could solve that problem with simultaneous settlement.

Several researchers from the two digital-finance companies – including Uniswap Chief Operating Officer Mary-Catherine Lader and Circle’s chief economist, Gordon Liao – contend that crypto’s innovations could be an answer to this major ongoing financial-stability concern for regulators. That’s one conclusion of their 20-page paper to be released in Davos for an event hosted by Circle on Thursday in conjunction with the World Economic Forum.

“On-chain FX can offer faster and more affordable transaction processes, as well as greater liquidity and stability,” the paper concludes.

The researchers also say remittances – money that people send across international borders – could see their costs cut by 80% through decentralized finance (DeFi). Sending money to people in other countries has always been one of the strongest arguments for crypto, and the paper said the lower costs could translate to $30 billion a year remaining in people’s pockets.

The paper arrives as blockchain and other crypto technology are suffering reputational damage from a heavy crypto winter compounded by the collapse of one of the biggest, most trusted companies, FTX. Regulators and the major companies in the traditional financial system have been reluctant – especially in recent months – to show enthusiasm for the new approaches.

Circle has been making recent waves after it began moving reserves for its USDC stablecoin into a BlackRock fund overseen by the Securities and Exchange Commission, with the eventual intention to get the fund into the Federal Reserve's reverse-repo program.


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Jesse Hamilton

Jesse Hamilton is CoinDesk's deputy managing editor for global policy and regulation. He doesn't hold any crypto.