Just over a decade since the advent of blockchain, the international ecosystem still appears to be immature and poorly structured. On the front of applications based on distributed architecture, there are a good number of pilot projects or experimental initiatives and few structural projects. Regarding cryptocurrencies, there are thousands of new altcoin projects, often purely speculative. Speaking of payments, unfortunately, the inertia of economic and financial systems must be noted, as to date, only a few operators, such as Tesla, have opened up to this opportunity.
Positive signals are glimpsed on the front of investments in crypto assets (mainly Bitcoin): institutional investors, including finance giants, have opened positions in this field or started new financial instruments to bring retail investors into the market. Significant progress is also being made in the world of stablecoins: China is launching the digital yuan, the Federal Reserve is discussing the digital dollar, and the ECB is discussing the digital euro.
In light of this scenario, it can be inferred that there is enormous potential in this sector yet to be expressed: many opportunities on the field that will see the economies of the world compete in this global race.
As Italians, we must ask ourselves: “can we compete internationally?” The answer is: “certainly yes.” We have many professionals specialized in this area who have already chosen to start their own business or support a business initiative abroad for years. Many of them can be found in countries that have been able to catch up on this train, such as the United Kingdom or Singapore, and even countries that are very close, such as Switzerland.
Italian policy therefore has a great responsibility to act quickly and through appropriate initiatives. The work of the Parliamentary Blockchain Inter-group initiated by colleague Deputy Davide Zanichelli will be fundamental. Thanks to the inter-group’s work, which sees the participation of representatives of all political forces, we will be able to develop politically shared proposals with the help of many experts. The well-known concept remains: “less is more” when it comes to the frontiers of technological innovation, a concept that is very difficult to apply in Italy, too often in the euphoria of over-regulation.
The focus of the political initiative should be to legitimize the sector. In the eyes of various operators – professionals, entrepreneurs, investors – this could be a first important signal to start building something in our country. We have already seen this done in other countries such as Switzerland or Germany. A second necessary step would be to issue the AgID guidelines on smart contracts, long-awaited since they were required by law with the Simplification Decree of 2019. An intervention on the fiscal front would also be essential. To date, cryptocurrency holders find themselves in a real regulatory vacuum. Even experts are divided on the tax framework as it is left to pure interpretations.
Finally, at the European level, a structured initiative by the Central Bank would be important. The introduction of a digital euro would open up many new opportunities for consumers and businesses, legitimizing digital payment systems based on distributed technology. Italy can and must give a propulsive boost to this important initiative.
In this entire process, politics and the institutions involved will have a central role. A wide public debate would be more necessary than ever to face this challenge. We will board this train or remain stationary at the station – or be dragged by other countries – only if we can make the right decisions as quickly as possible.