With the introduction of so-called "crypto-assets", the digitalization of the financial world is reaching the next level. In particular, "tokenisation", i.e. the possibility of converting real assets into virtual units and trading them via the blockchain, will radically change capital markets and the financial industry. These are central statements of the new study by the FERI Cognitive Finance Institute on "Blockchain and Tokenization - Disruption of the Financial System by Crypto-Assets and Decentralized Finance (DeFi)". "In a decentralized financial system based on blockchains, traditional financial intermediaries will have to massively rethink their business models," says Dr. Heinz-Werner Rapp, founder and director of the FERI Cognitive Finance Institute.
The tokenization of assets makes it possible to acquire fractions of any asset in digital form, he said. This would not only expand the investment universe for established investors and create opportunities, for example in new markets such as art, music or intellectual property rights. It would also give new groups of investors access to asset classes that were previously beyond their reach. The digitization of assets in a blockchain infrastructure also offers significant time and efficiency gains in asset trading. Options and derivatives markets could also be completely redesigned, for example through the use of self-executing contract elements ("smart contracts"). Such "digital contracts" would enable the development of digital payment flows and new types of assets ("smart assets"). "Trading and investing in crypto assets is still in its infancy, but the future vision of a 'token economy' within the framework of a 'decentralised financial system' is already challenging the financial establishment," Dr Heinz-Werner Rapp is convinced.
However, there is still a long way to go before blockchain technology, cryptocurrencies and global investment markets merge to form a new digital financial system. However, the first steps towards a legal framework have already been taken - such as in Germany with the Electronic Securities Act. "We need a professional legal basis for digital assets to ensure fair competition and social acceptance," says Rapp. After all, as with every technological structural break, the opportunities and risks here are also close together. Potential efficiency gains from the elimination of fees, deadlines and other transaction barriers are offset by the fear that a parallel shadow financial system could emerge to which supervisors have no direct access. Both arguments are valid, which guarantees lively discussions and disruptive developments in the future.
The study "Blockchain and Tokenization - Disruption of the Financial System by Crypto-Assets and Decentralized Finance (DeFi)" is available in German as download.