The Blockchain Revolution: Decoding Digital Currencies

May 24, 2022

Keynote Presentation by Fernando Martin

Presentation slides (PDF)

Interest in cryptocurrencies and decentralized finance spawned by Bitcoin and blockchain technology continues to grow and shows no signs of slowing. During a March 2014 Dialogue with the Fed event, the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis was the first central banking organization to sponsor a public lecture on cryptocurrencies and blockchain. Since then, economists and research associates at the St. Louis Fed have published numerous articles and explainers on these topics.

In this recorded presentation, Fernando Martin, economist and assistant vice president at the St. Louis Fed, discusses decentralized finance, blockchain technology and digital currencies. Martin is the co-author of “The Blockchain Revolution: Decoding Digital Currencies,” the feature essay from the St. Louis Fed’s 2021 annual report. Following his presentation, Martin is joined his co-author and St. Louis Fed senior vice president, David Andolfatto, for a Q&A session.

Welcome and Introduction

Opening remarks from Nikki Bommarito, assistant vice president in External Engagement and Corporate Communications


Segments include:

  1. Cryptocurrencies & Blockchain (3:17)
    • We Already Have Digital Money
    • The Double-Spend Problem
    • Communal Record-Keeping
    • How Blockchain Technology Works
    • Front-End: Cryptoassets Are Permissionless
    • Back-End: Database Management
    • Cryptocurrency Applications
  2. Stablecoins (25:20)
    • Stablecoins and Financial Stability
  3. Decentralized Finance (DeFi) (31:26)
    • Smart Contracts
    • Smart Contracts vs. Traditional Finance
    • Asset Tokenization
    • Decentralized Autonomous Organizations
    • How Are Cryptoassets Actually Trades?
  4. Central Bank Digital Currency (CBDC) (39:14)
    • Why Create a CBDC?
  5. Conclusions (45:39)
    • Blockchain Applications
    • Ability to Write History is a Tremendous Power

Panel Discussion and Audience Q&A

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This popular lecture series addresses key issues and provides the opportunity to ask questions of Fed experts. Views expressed are not necessarily those of the St. Louis Fed or Federal Reserve System.

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