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LBLF January 2024

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Money and Payments – The Decade Ahead

With Yesha Yadav

Milton R. Underwood Chair and Professor of Law

Vanderbilt University Law School

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Yesha is an Associate Dean, the Robert Belton Director of Diversity, Equity and Community and the Milton R. Underwood Chair at Vanderbilt Law School, in addition to being a Professor of Law and Faculty Co-Director of the school’s LLM program. 

Her research interests are in financial market and securities regulation, and corporate bankruptcy law – focusing on market structure, exchange design, payments, digital asset regulation, distressed debt and restructuring. 

 

Before joining Vanderbilt's law faculty in 2011, Yesha worked as a legal counsel with the World Bank in its finance, private-sector development and infrastructure unit, where she specialized in financial regulation and insolvency, and debtor-creditor rights. Before joining the World Bank in 2009, she practiced from 2004-08 in the London and Paris offices of Clifford Chance in the firm's financial regulation and derivatives group. As part of her work in the area of payments regulation, she advised the European Payments Council on the establishment of the Single Euro Payments Area. 

 

Since joining Vanderbilt, Yesha has served as an honorary advisor to India’s Financial Services Law Reform Commission and on the Atlantic Council’s Task Force on Divergence, Transatlantic Financial Reform and G-20 Agenda. She has served as a member of the Commodity Futures Trading Commission’s Technology Advisory Committee, where she sat on the Distributed Ledger Technology and Algorithmic Trading Subcommittees. 

 

She earned an MA in Law and Modern Languages at the University of Cambridge, after which she earned an LLM at Harvard Law School. She was a Vanderbilt University Chancellor Faculty Fellow for 2019-21 

 

In this episode of Regulatory Ramblings, she chats with host Ajay Shamdasani on the future of money and the shape currency and payment mechanisms will take in the coming decade. Money and payments have experienced a significant redesign over the last decade with money becoming increasingly digital cash use declining rapidly – especially since the pandemic, in countries like Sweden and urban China where cashlessness is the norm. 

 

Yesha shares her views on technologies combining digital banking and smartphones spurring a rapid restructuring of the payments architecture for everyday consumers and businesses. The conversation looks at the design of payment systems, the inefficiencies that exist even as such systems have been scaled – including financial exclusion for lower income communities and communities of color – as well as the efficacy of emerging digital asset solutions such as stablecoins, where tokenized representations of currencies like US dollar or the Euro move on rapidly computer networks (blockchains), transferring money in minutes and cheaply. 

 

The discussion moves on to exploring the risks emerging with a highly bank centric payments system (as is the case in the US less so in EU). As shown in the U.S. in March 2023, bank collapses mean that payment systems can also be disrupted (e.g., the collapse of Signature Bank caused a big disruption to the Signet payment system). Further, money kept by non-bank payment providers at US banks was also in peril where accounts exceeded the federal insurance limit (e.g., Circle had over US$3 billion in cash reserves held at SVB). 

 

The chat concludes with Yesha’s thoughts some of the tensions arising from the current trend toward digitization and the potential for blockchain-based decentralized finance to take off and gain more mainstream acceptance. 

Podcast Discussion

 

The full conversation, marked with key topics/chapters on the player, spans about 55 minutes.

 

02:46  Yesha Yadav's Career and Beginnings in Money and Payments

 

06:20  Money and Payments: What's Next? 

 

13:28  The Fundamental Role of Payment System Design in the Movement of Money within the Economy

21:07  Modernizing the US Dollar Payment System for Improved Efficiency 

 

24:04  Libra, CBDCs, and Regulatory Policy for Risk Mitigation in the Payment System 

 

28:25  Assessing Global Standards-Setting for Digital Asset Technology and Interoperability

 

31:57  Cash or Digital Money: Navigating Trade-Offs in an Imperfect World

 

34:54  Public vs Private Money, 'Tide Suds' as Drug Currency 

 

39:24  International Competition for Capital 101

 

45:01  Blockchain-Based Financial Innovations and the Need for the Maturing of Regulatory Frameworks

 

48:06  Treating Crypto as a Security: Prudence or Pitfall?

 

51:41  Maximizing Opportunities for Law Students: Beyond Legal Education 

Regulatory Ramblings podcasts is brought to you by The University of Hong Kong - Reg/Tech Lab, HKU-SCF Fintech Academy, Asia Global Institute, and HKU-edX Professional Certificate in Fintech, with support from the HKU Faculty of Law.

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Regulatory Ramblings Podcast

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Welcome to Regulatory Ramblings, a new podcast from a team at The University of Hong Kong on the intersection of all things pertaining to finance, technology, law and regulation. Hosted by the HKU Reg/Tech Lab, HKU-Standard Chartered FinTech Academy and the HKU-edX Professional Certificate in FinTech, join us as we hear from luminaries across multiple fields and professions as they share their candid thoughts in a stress-free environment - rather than the soundbites one typically hears from the mainstream press.

Regulatory Ramblings is a forum for those that appreciate long-form conversation. While it is something that may be regarded as lost art of an older time, it is nonetheless sorely needed in an age when glibness and flippancy pass for analysis in conventional journalism.

Having said that, we are grateful to be able to avail ourselves of modern technological resources to bring you chats with people you are probably not going to hear from elsewhere.

 

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Ajay Shamdasani is a veteran writer, editor and researcher based in Hong Kong. He holds an AB in history and government from Ripon College, JD and MIPCT degrees from the University of New Hampshire Franklin Pierce Law School, and an LLM in financial regulation from the Illinois Institute of Technology’s Chicago-Kent College of Law.

His 15-year long career as a financial and legal journalist began as deputy editor of A Plus magazine – the journal of the Hong Kong Institute of Certified Public Accountants. From there, he assumed the helm of Macau Business magazine as its editor-in-chief, and later, joined Asialaw magazine as its deputy editor.   More recently, he spent close to seven years as a senior correspondent with Thomson Reuters’ subscription-based trade-wire service Regulatory Intelligence/Compliance Complete (previously called Complinet) in Hong Kong. While there, he covered regulatory developments in that city, as well as Singapore, India and South Korea.

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