IMF and World Bank Launch 'Learning Coin' to Explore Cryptocurrency
By Landon Manning
The International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank have decided to study the applications of cryptocurrency and blockchain technology by launching their own permissioned blockchain and a token called “Learning Coin.”
The Financial Times reported on this development, describing the ways in which this Learning Coin is fundamentally different from actual cryptocurrencies and public blockchains. The token has no monetary value whatsoever and is only available to those working for the two international institutions.
The goals of this project are to help the staff of these organizations gain some practical experience with distributed ledger technology, in the hopes of better understanding crypto assets and smart contracts and their potential applications for extralegal purposes, such as money laundering.
Created after the end of World War II, the IMF and the World Bank work in tandem to manage the stability of international trade and to grant loans to developing economies, respectively. With nearly all the nations of the world participating in both organizations, their collective reach is massive.
“The development of crypto-assets and distributed ledger technology is evolving rapidly, as is the amount of information (both neutral and vested) surrounding it,” reads an IMF statement on the project. “This is forcing central banks, regulators and financial institutions to recognize a growing knowledge gap between the legislators, policymakers, economists and the technology. This project begins to bridge that gap and form a strong knowledge base of the technology among IMF and World Bank staff.”
As of yet, neither institution has announced any concrete plans for what they actually intend to do with the knowledge gained from this process, so it seems that at this early stage the only significant priority is to ensure that the organizations can make informed decisions in the future. Since the World Bank’s main mandate is to provide loans, their involvement in the IMF’s plans may indicate some intention to experiment with crypto-based loans in the future.
Those hoping that these particular institutions will maximize the potential uses of cryptocurrency worldwide have reason to be skeptical, however. Prominenteconomists from multiple sources in academic and media contexts have criticized the effects of these institutions’ actions on the developing world.
Still, regardless of what the IMF and the World Bank determine about official stances on truly decentralized, blockchain-based cryptocurrency, the news is well worth following.
The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.