The future of stablecoins: A conversation with Dante Disparte, Chief Strategy Officer and Head of Global Policy at Circle

CFTE met Dante A. Disparte, Chief Strategy Officer and Head of Global Policy of Circle – a leading international financial technology firm, at Point Zero Forum (PZF) at the end of June in Zurich. We got the chance to interview him about the Circle’s USDC integration into the global transaction network and their ongoing partnership development. 

Before joining Circle, Dante served as a founding executive of the Diem Association (née Libra), leading public policy, communications, membership, and social impact. Dante is a global leader and speaker on risk, economic competitiveness, and security issues, where he has been regularly featured in leading media such as Harvard Business Review, BBC, Forbes, and Diplomatic Courier, where Dante serves on the editorial advisory board.

What is USD Coin (USDC), and how is it different from other stablecoins?

D: USDC is a US-regulated dollar-based digital currency, backed by an equal amount of cash or US treasuries or other high-quality liquid assets. This backing provides a constant and redeemable value of $1 for each USDC token at all times. It serves as a stable and reliable digital representation of the US dollar, enabling seamless transactions, and offering users more trust as the USDC holdings can be exchanged for an equivalent amount of US dollars.

Can you tell me about the Euro-backed Stablecoin (EUROC) and how it is different from USDC?

D: The approach we follow with EUROC is very similar to USDC. The idea is to establish a digital currency that represents the Euro and is tailored to the European market. Circle is actively working towards obtaining a licence in France, specifically an E-money licence, and France’s virtual assets service provider framework, specifically to align with Markets in Crypto-Assets (MiCA) regulations. 

By introducing EUROC, we envision a future where multiple digital currencies co-exist. These currencies would be built on public blockchain infrastructure and share common technological foundations, facilitating easier cross-border payment, and more efficient transactions, which we called ‘FC’, Fast Currency, is one of the potential developments in this evolving digital currency landscape.

Circle has a broad range of services, what is the most popular one that you are providing to the companies?

D: The majority of our customers are institutions such as digital asset exchange banks, and major companies like MoneyGram and MasterCard. Other than offering digital currencies like USDC and EUROC, we focused on empowering our users with the technology to upgrade the ways in which they can conduct the ‘four types of payments activity: send, spend, save, and secure’. It is a digital wallet environment where digital currency can operate across multiple blockchain platforms. 

What factors of the country and investment strategy does Circle consider and utilises when expanding the market internationally?

D: As a regulation-first company, Circle is focused on building out its operations in countries with dynamic fintech ecosystems and trusted regulators. For instance, Singapore, where we hold a Major Payment Institution (MPI) licence, is a key market for us in terms of talent, partners and customers – and this is a result of the country’s forward-thinking tech leadership and reputation as a hub for responsible financial services innovation.

The reality of crypto is more about the technology convergence of business models and the creation of more opportunities as opposed to disruption of them.

Dante A. Disparte, Chief Strategy Officer and Head of Global Policy of Circle

Besides Singapore, do you see any other countries in Asia to invest in?

D: There are a lot of amazing developments happening in other countries. For instance, Japan is now trying to harmonise with other regions, in bringing stablecoin frameworks such as USDC, into the fold of established regulatory regimes. Regulation is important in the internet-based finance industry due to its borderless nature. Hong Kong is also another region we cannot ignore due to its significance as a growing financial centre. Lastly, South Korea with its strong technological literacy and innovative capacity has limitless potential to invest in tech companies.

What are some of the collaborations that you are doing and what are you looking for in terms of the partners globally?

D: One remarkable example of an institutional partnership, although not widely publicised as of yet, is that which we have recently commenced with SAP.  This pilot is enabling SAP customers to build cross-border payment modules using USDC. We are also honoured to be partnering with the United Nations (UN) and the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR), with several other major NGOs, aiding humanitarian relief efforts through USDC. 

Our partnerships are focused on bridging the gap between digital currencies and traditional financial systems. Currently, 75% of USDCs originate from crypto asset exchanges and are utilised in Externally Owned-wallet Addresses (EOAs). We have major partnerships with household names like Visa, MasterCard, and MoneyGram. Visa, for instance, has integrated USDC into its global settlement layer, benefitting 70 million merchants internationally. 

What is the cryptocurrency trend in the current market landscape?

D: The nature of digital currency is volatile at the moment since it is closely tied to the crypto capital markets. For instance, when the capital market shrank last year, the industry witnessed losses amounting to $2 trillion. The narrative with crypto for many years has been that banks and Wall Street are going to get democratised and that DeFi will supersede them. The reality is that this is more about the technological convergence of business models and the creation of more opportunities, as opposed to total disruption.

What is the company’s main emphasis now and in the future?

D: Currently, our main focus is on improving the payment system to be more efficient, safer and cost-effective. We are also focused on ensuring that stablecoins like USDC are as widely available as the demand for digital dollars in the world presents. So we are focused on building and expanding our partnerships with banks and non-banks that provide access to the financial systems in all of the most important markets in the world.

We just finished the Point Zero Forum, what are some of your key takeaways?

D: PZF is a truly unparalleled opportunity for central banks, policymakers, banks, and academics to come together and engage in an open dialogue about technology and the future of global financial systems. The format of designful roundtables, considered debates and insightful panels, works incredibly well and I look forward to attending further events curated under this architecture in the future.

Future outlook of stablecoins

In conclusion, our conversation with Dante A. Disparte of Circle underscores the increasing importance and potential of digital currencies like USDC and EUROC in today’s financial landscape. 

As more countries adopt regulatory frameworks that accommodate stablecoins, Circle aims to provide efficient, secure, and accessible digital transaction services. While volatility remains a concern in the cryptocurrency landscape, Circle is focused on non-speculative 100% backed payment tokens, and Disparte emphasises that this isn’t about replacing current systems, but rather creating new opportunities through technology convergence. 

Moving forward, Circle will continue focusing on improving payment systems, emphasising security, speed, and cost-effectiveness. The insightful discussions at Point Zero Forum underline the necessity for industry leaders, policymakers, and academics to collaborate openly on the future of technology, a trend that Disparte hopes will persist in the years to come.

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