Pablo Hernández de Cos: Crypto-assets - a financial authority's view

Speech (face-to-face with live streaming) by Mr Pablo Hernández de Cos, Governor of the Bank of Spain, at the Masters in Finance Closing of the Speakers Series, ESADE, Barcelona, 31 May 2022.

The views expressed in this speech are those of the speaker and not the view of the BIS.

Central bank speech  | 
21 June 2022

Good afternoon.

I am delighted to be here today to address an audience of recent Masters graduates. Not only as recognition of the growing importance of furthering our education in such a changeable world, but also because it affords me the opportunity to talk about cutting-edge themes with those who will play a leading role in the future of our society.

Among the many topical issues I could have selected for my address, I believe crypto-assets are the most suitable choice. Among other reasons, because young high-earners who study or work and live in big cities are precisely those who best fit the typical crypto-asset investor profile in Spain.

Despite being a somewhat misleading term, so-called "virtual currencies" have already been part of our lives for over a decade now. However, only in recent times a series of factors have emerged that seem to be underscoring their ultimate potential to end up playing a significant role in the financial system.

Beyond their likely contribution to, e.g., making payments more efficient or to driving innovation in financial markets, crypto-assets pose a number of important risks for the financial stability which could, eventually, become a material source of concern for relevant authorities if not accompanied by effective mitigation measures, as emphasised in the G20 communiqué of 18 February.

I will begin my speech by describing the defining characteristics of the phenomenon and recent developments, before turning to the specific risks to financial stability that they may pose. I will end by highlighting some of the main elements shaping the current response of regulators and supervisors and the challenges that lie ahead.