Massimo Buonomo is the United Nations (UN) Global Expert in Blockchain, Fintech and Regtech. Massimo is currently exploring how blockchain solutions can be used to address the challenges addressed by Covid-19. BEQUANT Talks has undertaken an exclusive interview with Massimo to explore his views on the state of the market and what lies ahead.
What in your view will happen to digital assets post COVID-19? And why do you think the digital assets market is experiencing a high right now?
The crypto world and bitcoins in particular have been affected by cover 19 outbreak. The impact on the price of bitcoins is explained below.
The price of bitcoin is influenced by many factors, especially by the behavior of Chinese investors. That is due to several factors. This includes strong interest of Chinese investors for cryptocurrencies as a way of moving money out of their country without many controls; low elasticity of demand of Chinese investors to the price of bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies (i.e. availability to purchase bitcoins even at time of higher bitcoin prices) and strong interest of the Chinese central bank to control the money supply, digital currencies and cryptocurrencies held by Chinese investors.
Therefore when coronavirus outbreak took place in China, the price of bitcoin went up quickly. But when the coronavirus started to subside in China, the price of bitcoin went down again substantially. Then recently the covid-19 outbreak got seriously worse in the USA with the announcement that:
- United States Center for Disease Control and Prevention expects that a rising rate of COVID-19 infections will lead to 134,000 deaths in the U.S. by June 1.
- The Treasury Department announced it is borrowing about $3 Trillion this quarter. The money is being used to subsidize economic recovery in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic.
As Chinese investors are some of the largest holders of US government debt, the increase of US borrowing after cover-19 crisis is possibly stimulating the appetite of Chinese investors for US debt. Due to the difficulties of getting the money out the country, Chinese investors are purchasing bitcoins to do that and invest in US debt. That explains the recent rise of the price of bitcoin.
What is the United Nations doing that is involving crypto?
United Nations is currently involved in many blockchain projects with its different agencies. United Nations World Food Programme (WFP). founded the WFP’s “Building Blocks” project, which has aid sent through the Ethereum blockchain to Syria.
As to crypto and bitcoins, there is one specific fund (the Cryptocurrency Fund) created by the United Nations agency called UNICEF. Beginning in October 2019, the Cryptocurrency Fund collects donations in cryptocurrencies, and gives them in the same cryptocurrency. There is no exchange in fiat currencies. The crypto fund works within another UNICEF venture, the Innovation Fund, which provides seed funding to blockchain-based companies working in developing countries on social products or services.
Probably the most important aspect of the Cryptocurrency Fund is not its small size but the endorsement given by the United Nations to bitcoin and ethereum. Being decentralized currencies in the future, the bitcoin and other crypto could even become an alternative to fiat currency and are being adopted extensively by national and international organizations.
Blockchain technology holds promise – what do you think is a good use for it in the current situation in the world?
Certainly in today’s pandemic blockchain solutions to address challenges caused by covid 19 are very important and useful at the moment. There are many Blockchain solutions facing cover 19 outbreak. They are aiming at:
a) tracking medical materials supply chain and donation tracking,
b) managing medical data,
c) contact tracing, i.e. the ability to find people who’ve been in close proximity to an infected individual,
d) insurance claims processing.
Probably one the most complete use case is MedsLOCK, a Monitoring, Control & Communication ecosystem, i.e. an app to provide real-time Covid-19 insights to government agencies. Compared with the other blockchain solutions Medslock helps in all three phases of the pandemic.
- Response Phase:
a) Tracking Supply Chains for Medical, Drugs, food & Other Critical Supplies; b) Coordinating Welfare Activities & Tracking Donations c) Managing Medical Data
- Recovery Phase:
a) Issuing e-certificates to citizens about their Covid -19 status if they request it; Medical professionals can attest to a MedsLOCK user’s status whom they have tested, vaccinated or seen recover.
b) Collecting data to enforce smart lockdown strategies
- Preparation for the next wave of Covid -19
a) Helping Law Enforcement & Border Control Authorities
b) Advising Media & Citizens With Authentic Information