Several times, I have picked up a book, article or conducted a Google search trying to better understand the basics and general culture of cryptocurrency and blockchain. I’m sure I’m not alone in finding this universe confusing, exciting, risky and complicated all at the same time. The crypto world is yet another area that makes me feel old and behind, as do so many other technological advances. But, attending a recent conference and hearing people that are older than me talk about their digital wallet and bidding on an NFT (non-fungible token), I knew I needed to roll up my sleeves and get up to speed. Even the title of the Sunday Business section of the recent The New York Times called its section on crypto, “The Latecomer’s Guide to Crypto.” So much of the article was full of new financial vocabulary. Uh oh, it’s official; I am late.
But what is a credit union’s role in crypto? Even after getting a basic education of the who, what, and when of it all, what is the “where” for credit unions? Where does crypto live in our world?
From a credit union league perspective, our role is to provide our member credit unions education in the crypto space, as well as to remove any barriers prohibiting credit unions from safely entering this space, provided they have the desire.
We can view it almost like cannabis banking — while now legal in Michigan, it’s an area that not everyone wants to participate in but still needs serious changes in the legal and regulatory space. While cannabis has a vastly complex tracking system and sample policies, procedures and tested oversight, the same cannot be said about crypto.
A recent whitepaper published by Cornerstone Advisors, “What’s Going On In Banking 2022: Rebounding from the Revenue Recession,” tells us that 25% of credit unions plan to offer cryptocurrency investing/trading by the end of 2023, and 17% of the 300 community financial institution executives say they plan to offer custody/safekeeping of crypto by the same timeframe.
Like it or not, crypto is everywhere. You see it on Venmo, watching the Superbowl, the Academy Awards and, if you are in LA, you might have been to the Crypto.com Arena.
Whether crypto is here to stay or not, I would like to see our credit unions get to a place where they safely explore their cryptocurrency options. We’re often trying to dispel the myth that credit unions are not tech savvy; what better way to distinguish ourselves as tech players than offering crypto education by a financial advisor or surveying investment options?
Are you one of the many credit unions looking to find some non-interest income? Maybe this technology can deliver.
While you will not find me looking to buy into the Bored Ape Yacht Club (Google it) anytime soon (or ever), I am excited to continue my education and to explore options for our Michigan credit unions in blockchain. Join me.