Monday, June 24, 2024
Home > News > Cryptocurrency Market > U.S. Credit Unions Embrace Tokenization of Real-World Assets

U.S. Credit Unions Embrace Tokenization of Real-World Assets

Traditional banks may still lead the financial industry in terms of assets, but credit unions are gaining popularity among eligible Americans.

Recent data reveals approximately 4,600 credit unions in the United States. A September 2023 report from the National Credit Union Administration  highlighted that nearly 139 million Americans were members of federally insured credit unions, marking a 20% increase over the past five years.

Additionally, the credit union market size measured by revenue totaled $126.2 billion last year.

John Wingate, CEO of financial platform BankSocial, explained to Cryptonews that a credit union operates as a member-owned bank. “Unlike for-profit banks owned by shareholders, credit unions are owned by the members, one member, one share, one vote,” said Wingate. “This aligns perfectly with the decentralized finance ethos.”

Despite this alignment, credit unions face challenges that could hinder future growth. Kyle Hauptman, Vice Chairman of the NCUA, noted that credit unions often engage in a cumbersome process called ‘loan participations,’ where ownership interests in a loan are divided and sold. This process can be complex, as the credit union purchasing a participation stake may not know if payments have been made or if the selling credit union will pay the required portion.

Hauptman suggested that tokenizing smaller loans could address these challenges. “A smart contract would automatically pay the buying credit union their share,” he said, eliminating the need for the purchasing credit union to inquire about payments.

Ravi de Silva, Managing Partner at de Risk Partners, mentioned that tokenization could enhance compliance risk management by providing greater transparency, security, and efficiency. He pointed out that tokenization could be beneficial for Anti-Money Laundering (AML) purposes by enabling efficient analysis of transactional data and improving customer due diligence processes.

Given these benefits, some credit unions have begun implementing tokenization solutions. BankSocial is working with several credit unions to tokenize identity and transactional data through hashing. Wingate noted that BankSocial’s solutions use Hedera Hashgraph’s distributed ledger technology  to tokenize payments and deposits for peer-to-peer transactions on the Hedera network.

Additionally, Metallicus, through its Metal blockchain, is collaborating with credit unions like Vibrant, Meritrust Credit Union, and Fairwinds to develop blockchain-based solutions. According to Marshall Hayner, COO of Metallicus, the Metal blockchain enables financial institutions to create interoperable ledgers for seamless communication.

Despite these advancements, regulatory concerns persist. Hauptman mentioned that credit unions are uncertain whether tokens might be deemed securities. While the NCUA has provided guidance for tokenization use, other regulatory concerns remain, including KYC processes and the custodianship of tokens.

Nevertheless, Hauptman believes that U.S. credit unions are better positioned to implement tokenization compared to banks, thanks to NCUA’s regulatory clarity. For example, in July 2021, the NCUA published a “Request for Information and Comment on Digital Assets and Related Technologies” report, followed by guidance documents on digital assets and distributed ledger technologies.

De Silva emphasized the importance of credit unions working closely with compliance teams to adopt industry best practices for tokenization. “It’s crucial to establish a robust framework that aligns tokenization practices with regulations while prioritizing the security and privacy of customer data,” he said.

With continued collaboration and adherence to regulatory guidelines, credit unions can successfully navigate the complexities of tokenization and harness its potential benefits.

Featured Image: Freepik

Please See Disclaimer

Source