The United Nations is fascinated by distributed ledger technology (DLT). In a conversation with Cointelegraph at WEF 2022, Sameer Chauhan, director of the United Nations International Computing Center (UNICC), explained the “huge opportunity” he sees in cryptocurrencies.
A traditional finance executive and UNICC head since 2018, Chauhan has seen the rise and fall of the cryptocurrency market. He shared that groups such as the Bank for International Settlements (BIS) do not want to “miss the boat” when it comes to DLT.
Chauhan explained that cryptocurrencies are neutral technologies:
“It’s a tool. You can use it to do good things, and you can use it to make money — that’s not bad. […] In the future, cryptocurrencies will become a very important part of how the world interacts and transacts, making it a more level playing field. “
In terms of “bridging the digital divide” or “transparency,” he said, cryptocurrencies are a powerful tool that can encourage UNICC-driven outcomes. The key is the implementation of cryptocurrencies to ensure they can be “used correctly”.
A central bank digital currency or CBDC could be an implementation of distributed ledger technology for UNICC settlements. To the last question posed by the Davos ice hockey stadium, Chauhan replied that “CBDC reduces costs” and is more powerful than fiat or government-issued currencies.
Nonetheless, UN agencies do not have a “single position” on CBDC, as there is a high degree of independence and autonomy among UN agencies. From refugees to food crises to women’s welfare, the UN seeks to address these issues – and a CBDC could be a solution:
“Maybe if we can find the right model, leveraging some kind of CBDC, the interaction with the voters we aim to serve could be frictionless — possibly smoother and more transparent.”
Related: ECB President’s Anti-Cryptocurrency Comments Spark Community Reaction
A hot topic at WEF 2022, some bankers have called for a halt to any CBDC rollout as there are still too many unknowns. Payments network SWIFT was questioned during a CBDC panel discussion at the World Economic Forum, with Mastercard CEO Michael Mibach joking that SWIFT will not exist in five years.
Whether it’s a CBDC or a stablecoin that the United Nations has tried to use to help Ukrainian refugees, Chauhan concluded that when it comes to cryptocurrencies, “from where we are, we see a huge opportunity.”