The SWIFT Institute, an offshoot of the Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication (SWIFT), launched a new research program on virtual money. The author of the selected proposal will receive a grant of €15,000.
The institute invites proposals for research on the recent developments in digital currencies and put an emphasis on bitcoin, as it is the most popular virtual currency to date.
The SWIFT Institute posted a call for proposals titled ‘Virtual Currencies: What are the “real” risks?‘, saying: “With bitcoin’s increasing usage, virtual currencies are becoming more of a reality. There are bitcoin ATMs in more than 10 countries worldwide, and the currency is increasingly accepted by mainstream retailers.”
Speaking to CoinDesk, director of the SWIFT Institute Peter Ware told: “It is a very topical area impacting the global financial industry and the world in general, and one that is increasingly discussed at conferences, in the media, at the central bank level, etc. For many people, however, it is not a topic that is fully understood. Through academic research, the SWIFT Institute is aiming to provide some concrete input to the discussion.”
The institute also noted that an average amount of bitcoin transactions per day total 40,000-80,000. Moreover, given the rising bitcoin acceptance, the volume of transactions is “expected to rise exponentially”.
The institute provided a list of challenges and advantages of bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies that the research papers have to include:
- What is the net economic impact of virtual currencies?
- Do the lower transaction costs outweigh resources expended in mining?
- What is the relationship between virtual currencies and real money?
- What are the risks involved in using virtual currencies?
- What role can or should regulators and central banks play?
- Would pegging/fixing exchange rates help stabilise virtual currencies?
- How can criminal activity be avoided when using digital currencies?
All participants have to provide a CV or biography with a 2,500 word description of the research project. The program is set to be finished on August 20th 2014.
Although the SWIFT institute has already got a number of proposals, the majority of the papers are expected to be received close to the deadline.
The winner will receive 50% of the grant, while the remaining half will be paid after the proposal is submitted. After the completion of the research, it will be available for anyone who wants to download it.
The SWIFT institute sets standards for interbank digital transactions and works with over 10,500 banks and financial firms. Founded in 2012, it aims at researching current operations and future need of the world financial services sector. As part of its job, the institute gives grants to attract more academics to explore the industry and generate new ideas.