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NAB Continues Australia’s Stablecoin Odyssey With AUDN Launch

National Australia Bank (NAB) becomes the second of Australia’s ‘big four’ banks to launch a stablecoin pegged against the Australian dollar. 

The AUDN stablecoin, which NAB is expected to launch on the Ethereum blockchain and Alogorand smart contract platform in the summer of 2023, intends to provide users with a way to settle transactions on the blockchain in real-time by using a one-to-one Australian dollar-backed token.

As an example of this, Howard Silb, NAB’s chief innovation officer, told the Australian Financial Review‘s (AFR) report that AUDN’s applicability could extend to “carbon credit trading, overseas money transfers and repurchase agreements.”

The value of a stablecoin is dependent on the asset class it is pitched against, which in this case is the Australian dollar. Because of this association, its price is less reactive and far more stable than other cryptocurrency alternatives.

In terms of its payment abilities, a stablecoin like AUDN would afford users more efficient and cheaper transactions than the opposing interbank cross-border payment solution offered by SWIFT.

The stablecoin expected to be launched by NAB will be backed entirely by the bank’s own capital, reassuring consumers against the current volatility of the wider cryptocurrency market.

In this way, and according to the AFR report, the AUDN will primarily position itself as a settlement token. NAB confirms the use of AUDN in its transition away from two-day trade settlements, also known as T+2, to the more instant and favourable settlement time of T0.

Through a process of ‘atomic settlement’, stablecoins allow multiple parties to settle linked transactions simultaneously.

Silb confirms in the report the bank’s intention to offer stablecoins in “multiple currencies” in accordance with its regional licensing agreements.

The big four explore stablecoins

NAB is the second of Australia’s ‘big four’ financial institutions to enter into the stablecoin space. Its activity follows in the footsteps of its reported rival bank ANZ, which executed its first transaction using its A$DC stablecoin in March 2022.

The transaction saw Victor Smorgon Group use the A$DC stablecoin to purchase BCAU carbon tokens from the Australian crypto asset investment platform Zerocap.

NAB’s addition to that list of payment options welcomes new competition to the Australian stablecoin space. Elsewhere among the big four, Commonwealth Bank Australia (CBA) has dabbled in the cryptocurrency space with the development and pilot of its corresponding app. Unlike NAB or ANZ however, the bank has yet to release its own stablecoin.

Sophie Gilder, CBA’s managing director of blockchain and digital assets, cited regulation as a key hurdle for realising a digital currency during a panel at Sibos 2022 in Amsterdam last October.

“Proposed regulatory capital rules might make it unattractive. For example, for regulated financial institutions to hold stablecoins,” Gilder said. “Other regulations could also impact who can issue a stablecoin.”

As the last of the big four, Westpac is also moving slowly in the stablecoin space. While the bank minted a stablecoin as part of its internal pilot into the technology conducted last year, it too has yet to decide whether to bring one to the market or not.

Stablecoins and the mass adoption of cryptocurrency

As Australia travels further along the path of stablecoins, Simone Mazzuca sees their slow introduction as integral to the wider adoption of cryptocurrency.

Mazzuca is the CEO and founder of Wallex, the alternative banking infrastructure delivering asset and digital asset banking, custody and trading.

The company offers financial solutions designed with a compliant, regulated and secure architecture that helps B2C and B2B to take advantage of the digital transformation.

Simone Mazzuca, CEO and founder, Wallex

“Providing valuable products, features and services to end consumers is what achieves mass adoption,” comments Mazzuca. 

“Bitcoin currently holds the largest market share in the case of cryptocurrency. However, its accessibility and usability remain limited for the general population.

“Stablecoins, on the other hand, have the potential to change this narrative by allowing consumers to transact at cheaper rates and faster speeds.”

Mazzuca predicts that institutions like the big four adopting stablecoins will create accessibility around the product. As this accessibility becomes more prevalent, he anticipates that this will drive their wider use cases. 

“As the use cases for stablecoins and other digital assets expand,” he continues, “reaching beyond digital finance and into traditional finance, mass adoption is likely to occur as the technology has the potential to improve people’s daily lives.”

Author

  • Tyler is a fintech journalist with specific interests in online banking and emerging AI technologies. He began his career writing with a plethora of national and international publications.

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