Distinguished economist Carolyn Wilkins peeled back the veil of mystery shrouding cryptocurrency during her recent virtual presentation to the Trent community – in a lecture that represented a homecoming of sorts for Ms. Wilkins.
Born in Peterborough and raised in Selwyn, she attended Lakefield District Secondary School, and has “very fond memories of Trent University…I studied for many, many exams in the Bata Library.” She also referenced her first job at the Selwyn General Store, recalling “a time when cash was king and something like bitcoin would have been the stuff of science fiction.”
In her talk, Exploring The Crypto Frontier, the former senior deputy governor of the Bank of Canada and current external member of the Bank of England’s financial policy committee, reviewed components of the decentralized finance (DeFi) ecosystem that crypto assets, like bitcoin, enable. Wilkins outlined features of the crypto asset market and the need to implement legal and regulatory measures to keep threats at bay.
Crypto assets, sometimes called crypto, is a digital asset that uses cryptography to secure transactions. Crypto assets do not have a central issuing authority, and instead use a decentralized system to record transactions and assign new units.
The Pressing Need for Oversight
Noting the current estimated $2 trillion US crypto asset market demands, Ms. Wilkins remains concerned with a lack of regulation leading to threats to investors, market integrity and financial stability.
Acknowledging the crypto asset market benefits that could be delivered to households and businesses, Ms. Wilkins advocates for safe and responsible modernization.
“We need to modernize our legal and regulatory frameworks to support crypto activity and the emerging DeFi system…businesses need to have clear and predictable rules of the game and the risks to the financial system must be managed,” she said.
Ms. Wilkins also discussed her support for research into Central Bank Digital Currency (CBDC), noting that the crypto evolution has motivated central bankers to accelerate this work. There is a growing recognition of the potential CBDC has to safely support modernization of payments and the monetary system.
Following her presentation, Ms. Wilkins fielded questions from lecture attendees, among them former Trent chancellor-emeritus Dr. Don Tapscott ’66, one of the world’s leading authorities on blockchain and cryptocurrency.
In 2017, Dr. Tapscott co-founded the Blockchain Research Institute. Prior, with his son Alex Tapscott, he co-authored the global bestseller Blockchain Revolution: How The Technology Behind Bitcoin and Other Cryptocurrencies Is Changing The World.
Annual Lecture in Honour of Professor Harry Kitchen
Since 2007, the annual Harry Kitchen Lecture in Public Policy honours Trent professor emeritus Dr. Harry Kitchen’s many contributions to research and public policy information. This series allows students and the broader Trent community to access insights from academics and thought-leaders in the realm of public policy and economics providing access to experts.
Professor Kitchen has written more than 100 articles, reports, studies and books covering issues related to local government expenditures, and finance and governance in both Canada and abroad. He has served as a consultant and advisor for governments and private sector institutions, today continuing his writing and role as professor emeritus at Trent University.