The European Central Bank has published a paper providing an overview of the stablecoins market and looking ahead to its future development. The paper contains no binding rules or guidance and is designed for information purposes only. It outlines how stablecoins have emerged as an alternative to highly volatile cryptoassets, such as Bitcoin, by incorporating "stabilization" mechanisms that back the value of the stablecoins by tying them to underlying assets such as fiat currencies or commodities. Facebook's unveiling of its Libra stablecoin has attracted much attention from regulators, demonstrating the ongoing challenges faced by the cryptoassets. It goes on to describe the different types of stablecoins, the current status of stablecoin initiatives and considers potential use cases for stablecoins, such as transferring money without using financial institutions or cash. The ECB determines that it remains to be seen how the more innovative types of stablecoin will develop given their greater volatility and foresees that improvements in stablecoin governance may need to be made.
The paper follows a number of other recent investigations by international oversight bodies, including the Financial Stability Board's report on the regulatory issues arising from stablecoins and the G7 working group's report on the impact of global stablecoins.