Welcome to a new episode of “Blockchain Leaders Insights,” a podcast that delves into the forefront of blockchain technology and its intersection with the regulatory landscape. This series is proudly presented by Blockchain Ireland, where thought leaders and industry experts come together to discuss the pressing topics shaping the future of digital finance.
In today’s episode, we have the privilege of hosting a distinguished guest, Mr. Gerry Cross, the Director of Financial Regulation Policy and Risk at the Central Bank of Ireland. Joining him are our seasoned hosts, Lory Kehoe, Chair of Blockchain Ireland, and Pearse Ryan, an experienced lawyer turned entrepreneur with deep roots in the financial services and healthcare sectors.
Together, they embark on a comprehensive discussion about the evolving world of cryptocurrency, blockchain, and the pivotal role of regulation in fostering growth while ensuring stability and consumer protection. We’ll explore the Central Bank of Ireland’s unique mandate, its approach to innovation, and how it balances the rapid technological advancements with the traditional financial systems.
As Ireland positions itself at the heart of financial innovation, our conversation will also touch upon the potential of Central Bank Digital Currencies (CBDCs), the intricacies of the Markets in Crypto-Assets Regulation (MECA), and the collaborative efforts with industry groups such as Blockchain Ireland.
So, tune in and gain valuable insights as we navigate through the complexities of financial regulation in the age of blockchain and digital assets.
In conclusion, the “Blockchain Leaders Insights” podcast episode featuring Gerry Cross, Director of Financial Regulation Policy and Risk at the Central Bank of Ireland, provided a comprehensive and insightful look into the world of financial regulation in the era of blockchain and digital currencies. Gerry’s extensive experience and his role at the Central Bank offered valuable perspectives on the complexities and challenges of regulating emerging technologies in the financial sector.
Key themes such as consumer protection, the balance between innovation and regulation, and the future of digital currencies, including the digital euro, were explored in depth. The discussion also highlighted the Central Bank of Ireland’s proactive approach in embracing technological advancements while ensuring a stable and secure financial environment.
This episode not only shed light on the intricacies of financial regulation in the context of blockchain and crypto-assets but also underscored the importance of collaboration between regulatory bodies and industry groups like Blockchain Ireland. As the financial landscape continues to evolve with technological advancements, such dialogues are crucial in shaping policies that foster innovation and protect consumers.
For more detailed insights and future discussions, follow our podcast series for the latest in blockchain thought leadership.
Gerry Cross was appointed as Director of Financial Regulation – Policy and Risk in May 2015. He leads the Central Bank’s work on prudential and markets conduct regulatory policy and its supervisory risk framework (PRISM). Gerry is a member of the EBA Board of Supervisors and alternate member of the EIOPA Board of Supervisors. He co-chairs EBA’s Standing Committee on Regulation and Policy.
Gerry has had an extensive career in the area of financial services regulation. Before joining the Central Bank he worked at the European Commission, the UK Financial Services Authority, Fortis Group, the Institute of International Finance, and the Association for Financial Markets in Europe.
[00:00] Podcast title introduction
[0:13] Lory: Hello and welcome to Blockchain Leaders Insights, brought to you by Blockchain Ireland. My name is Lory Kehoe, Chair of Blockchain Ireland, and today I’m joined by my co-host Pearse Ryan. Pearse, would you like to introduce yourself?
[0:25] Pearse: I would, thank you, Lory. Hello, folks. Pearse Ryan is my name. Shall I give some background, Lory, on myself? Yes, indeed. Well, I am a lawyer by trade, so I won’t let that spoil what should be a nice interview. For many, many years, 22 years, I was with Arthur Cox, a well-known law firm. I was a partner there for 18 years and I’ve been out of there about two years now and I’m now I suppose what I have to recognize is an entrepreneur although it’s not a word that really suits me frankly and I’m the co-founder of two businesses one of financial services business and the other a healthcare business both of which are in the sustainability area and both of which are technology driven. When I’m not scurrying around in my entrepreneurial role I do other bits and piece of other things and I sit on the board of Blockchain Ireland along with Lory, my eminent chair, and I chair the legal and regulatory working group, which is probably why I’m sitting here now.
[1:16] Lory: In this week’s episode, we are talking all about regulation. Regulation is certainly a key term and theme which has dominated the crypto, blockchain and web3 discussion over the last number of years and is set to continue over the coming years. We are delighted today to be joined by Mr. Gerry Cross from the Central Bank of Ireland, who is the Director of Financial Regulation Policy and Risk. Gerry, you’re very welcome.
[1:41] Gerry: Thank you Lory, thank you Pearse. Great to be here.
[1:44] Lory: So jumping straight in, I think first things first, Gerry, we’d love to learn a little bit more about you. So if you could share a little bit about who you are and how and why you joined the CBI or Central Bank of Ireland.
[1:58] Gerry: Thanks Lory. So I am the Director of Financial Regulation and Policy and Risk at the Central Bank of Ireland. I grew up in Dublin, did my education and training here in Dublin, then moved away in around 1993, spent 20 years plus in different parts of the world.
So I was in London for a while, I was in Aberystwyth in Wales for a while. So a lot of time in Brussels, some time in Washington. And then, and this brings me to the second part of your question, and moved back to Ireland in 2015 for a job at the Central Bank of Ireland. Why was that? I actually hadn’t imagined that I would be coming back to Ireland. I hadn’t imagined that I’d be coming back to the Central Bank per se. But in the wake of the crisis, it was really interesting. At that stage, I was based in Brussels and in Washington. It was really interesting to see how Ireland and the Central Bank went about rebuilding credibility, rebuilding their reputation. And very rapidly, as you were sort of engaging with different cohorts of people, whether it be in Brussels or in Washington, that sense that Ireland was really responding very well to the trauma and the challenges of the crisis. And the Central Bank of Ireland’s role in that, in rebuilding confidence in the financial system and rebuilding their credibility in Europe, for me, made it a very exciting place. So, this job opportunity came along and it didn’t take much to persuade me that this would be something that would be really worthwhile.
[3:29] Pearse: Never a dull moment.
[3:30] Gerry: No, never a dull moment. And it’s surprising that it’s nearly nine years now since I returned, a huge amount has happened but there hasn’t been, as you say, Pearse, never a dull moment and it is very exciting.
[3:39] Pearse: And I think we’re about to talk about a whole range of topics which will certainly keep you extremely busy over the next number of years.
[3:46] Lory: And Gerry, just a quick follow up there in terms of what were you doing in Washington and Brussels?
[3:50] Pearse: And Wales.
[3:52] Lory: And Wales, but true.
[3:53] Gerry: So a bit like Pearse, I started out as a lawyer. Unlike Pierce, that’s a long time ago now. And I practiced here in Dublin for a few years. And then I thought, that’s maybe not for me for the whole time. So I ended up in the UK in a university teaching law and regulation. And kind of one thing led to another. So then I was based in London for a while, working at the UK regulator, the Financial Service Authority, then at the European Commission in Brussels, then in Washington, always in the area of financial regulation, international or European or national. And that’s always been the kind of the milieu. And I think, I guess it’s been a very interesting period, a time of very challenging period with, I mean, I think the great financial crisis left us all with many sort of scars and sort of an experience that it’s important not to forget, but it’s important also sort of to build on the things we’ve learned. And I guess that would bring us a little bit to our discussion today, which is how you, having done all the repair work that has been done over the past 10 plus years, now look into the future and all the things that are ahead of us.
[5:06] Pearse: We’re going to talk a little bit about, Gerry, about the CBI and perhaps you might talk to us a little bit about the role of CBI, the responsibilities of CBI, perhaps delve into that side road of whether or not CBI has a role in terms of promoting Ireland Inc., which is a frequently discussed topic more abroad than perhaps at home. And perhaps talk to us a little bit about the day to day life of an eminent and very senior person within CBI. And then finally, our CBI hiring?, question mark.
[5:35] Gerry: Thanks. Well, there’s a lot in that. I’ll try it. And you can remind me if I don’t cover it all. But I think it’s a really Important question to ask you know what is the role of the Central Bank of Ireland what’s the role of any central bank but actually what’s the role of Central Bank of Ireland is particularly important because we’re not unique but we’re quite distinctive in in the breadth of the things that we have so it’s unusual to have a central bank which does not only monetary policy and financial stability which all central banks do but also which does financial regulation and the full scope of financial regulation. So that’s quite an interesting thing about the Central Bank of Ireland. It allows us to have that integrated perspective, which we find hugely valuable. And going back to what I was saying earlier about sort of our credibility in Europe, I think that is one of the things that has helped the Central Bank, but also Ireland create that sense of reputation and things being in a very well high quality kind of shape in Ireland. In simple terms what do? We do in simple terms the role of the Central Bank of Ireland is to try and secure with within the scope of our mandate I would say the economic and financial well-being of the citizens of Ireland. Also more broadly the citizens of Europe because we have we have an international sector but the citizens of Ireland and we do that through a number of ways. And it’s easy sort of to get lost in the technical kind of questions and all that. But if you think about it, we’re responsible for trying to manage inflation as part of the European system of central banks. We’re responsible for trying to ensure financial stability, i.e. That the system keeps working reliably. The banks, the insurers, the payments firms, terms, the funds, etc. And then we’re responsible for making sure that it all operates in the interests of consumers. So think about those three things. There is more, but if you think about monetary stability, so that’s making sure that inflation remains under control, financial stability, and that the financial system is about the interests of consumers. All of that is designed to secure the financial interests and the economic well-being of the state and of citizens. So that’s what we’re about. So, I mean, we will obviously get into all sorts of different technical discussions, and there’s many, many facets of what we do. But fundamentally, for us, it always comes back to that.
[8:23] Pearse: Yeah. Thank you for that very clear exposition there. But, I mean, this is something I had for many, many years in my previous life because I set up the fintech group within Arthur Cox, going back to a period where a lot of it was, shall we say, even more racy than it is today. And this this thing about Ireland Inc and CBI having a perceived rah-rah-rah role came up in every single call and in every call you had to say no that’s not CBI’s role it’s here, it’s not, flag waving for Ireland Inc and it comes up all the time and I’m sure you see it as well. People come in with an expectation that’s not quite aligned with you know what you do.
[9:05] Gerry: It’s understandable that people kind of ask that question say well you know central bank you’re about the well-being of the Irish economy, so therefore, shouldn’t you be attracting firms into the Irish economy? Of course, the first thing I’ll say is that there’s many other authorities and bodies who have responsibility in that space. But more importantly, and it goes back to your first question, what is it that the central bank should be doing? And what we should be doing is making sure that the system operates in a high quality way, that it operates in a way that the financial system is supporting the economy.
That there’s stability, and that citizens’ interests and consumers’ interests, those who are using financial services, are protected. One of the things that came very clearly out of the crisis, and Patrick Honohan, who was the central bank governor during the period when we were coming out of the crisis and dealing with the crisis, and he did a report into what went wrong. One of the key things that he identified was that the central bank was trying to do two things, was trying to be a promoter and a regulator and concluded you can’t really do both. Now. It’s very important to say, and there’s two concepts in play. One is competitiveness, right? Is it the role of the central bank to make the Irish economy sort of a competitor to bring in, to promote? And the answer there is no, that’s not the role of the central bank. Is it the role of the central bank to regulate and to act in such a way that competition within the financial sector is strong and healthy? Yes, it is. That is part of our responsibility. So there’s important distinctions here. But fundamentally, that’s about ensuring that there’s innovation, that there’s good competition and high quality regulation. And if we do that, if you look at the success of the jurisdiction, if you look at how much activity, financial service activity goes on here and how it’s growing and developing and the role of the financial services sector here in Europe more generally and how many firms of different types want to be here.
[11:27] Pearse: Correct.
[11:27] Gerry: And offer their services across Europe. That reflects the quality of the Irish jurisdiction. And there’s a whole number of facets to that, right?
[11:36] Pearse: I don’t think there’s ever been a doubt about quality. Right.
[11:38] Gerry: And the quality comes from like the people, it comes from our environment, it comes from our culture, and it comes from our regulation as part of that. So for us, being a high quality regulator, who understands our mandate, who communicates well, who is trying to ensure that innovation and competition are part of a well-functioning financial system. That’s how we think about it. And that’s all about having the best performing financial services sector that you can.
[12:08] Pearse: And it’s interesting on that point that increasingly the commission is reaching for regulation, not directive when it comes to financial services legislation. And of course, that hugely cuts down the opportunity for what’s called arbitrage. In other words, a local legislator to take a view on how to implement, which of course is used and sometimes misused by those seeking authorization. So therefore, more and more, the quality of the regulator is the distinguishing feature is between X and Y country, as opposed to, you know, one’s taking a view here and one is taking a view there. There’s less opportunity for the local parliament to take a view, which is a good thing, I think, overall.
[12:43] Lory: Gerry, going back to one of the Pierce’s questions there, without putting you on the spot, what is your job?
[12:51] Gerry: My personal job? Good question. So, yeah, no, it’s a very good question because, as I say, we are, you know, it comes a little bit from the fact that we are a very distinctive central bank regulator and that we have so much within our mandates. So, one of the things that’s sort of at the heart of my job, which is being responsible for policy and, if you like, our supervisory frameworks. So, that’s why my role is financial regulation, policy and risk. And fundamentally, that’s about our policy and our supervisory frameworks. And one of the things that’s really important for us to try and do is to try and make sure that, because we have so much activity, so many different types of financial services activity going on in Ireland, that we first of all are very integrated in our perspective and in how we regulate. So we don’t sort of say, well insurance firms we regulate in this way, banks we regulate in this way, payment firms, we try to make sure that we are on the one hand consistent and coherent but also proportionate, right. Also recognizing that there are differences right and that you’re if you’re a small start-up crowdfunding space you’re not a large established hundred-year-old retail bank and so we make sure we’re proportionate. So my responsibility is for basically the regulation and the frameworks that we apply. And that has two aspects to it. One is in Europe, because as you rightly intimated, Pearse, I would say 65, 70% of the relevant rules now come directly from Europe.
[14:34] Pearse: Directly, yeah.
[14:35] Gerry: So a big part of our role is participating in Europe and trying to make sure that A, the insights we can bring, are well embedded in the European discussions. And B, that what emerges is very well suited to the Irish situation. And then the other part of my role is in relation to domestic regulation. So how do we approach blockchain, crypto? How do we as the Central Bank of Ireland think about those things? You may have seen, some of the viewers may have seen, we introduced an individual accountability framework over the recent…
[15:14] Pearse: Very important. Very important.
[15:16] Gerry: Yeah. that’s a domestic piece. It’s a piece of legislation and then it becomes a regulatory framework. We currently have a really interesting, review of our Consumer Protection Code. So there’ll be a consultation paper coming out in the coming few weeks, which is really, if I can say so, really interesting in terms of what we’re saying there about how you, in the modern context, how a financial firm genuinely secures its customers’ interests. How do they balance the need to make profit, make sustainable profit, and put their customer’s interest at the heart of what they do?
[15:54] Pearse: And as you indicated at the very beginning, that’s one of perhaps the three fundamental pillars of the role of any financial regulator, including your good selves. And I think it’s fair to say that perhaps the crypto space has not proven itself over the last number of years to be the best custodian and guardian of the interests of consumers and that’s something that they’ll have to deal with as they grow up and as they mature. And dealing with the likes of CBI and other regulators is a big part of the growing up adolescence phase of a very young industry and a lot of growing pains there.
[16:24] Lory: Absolutely. And Gerry, in terms of the day-to-day, what does that mean? Are you in Ireland? Are you in Europe a lot? Are you around the world?
[16:33] Gerry: Yeah, so I’m mostly in Ireland, but I suppose, I mean, I travel a fair amount.
Interestingly, post-COVID, one travels, I travel less than I used to. That’s kind of part of our sustainability sort of mandate, which is actually we’ve learned things in COVID. So one can do a lot of European meetings. It’s been quite an interesting journey. So we now do about 50% of our European meetings. We do them virtually and 50% physically. And it’s kind of been interesting during COVID and afterwards to recognise, how you also need to do the physical, right? Europe works on cross-cultural engagement.
[17:19] Pearse: Yes. You have to.
[17:19] Gerry: You need to know people, and particularly with the sort of, the different uses of English. It’s really interesting, because obviously most of this is done in English.
[17:30] Pearse: Yeah, you’re spoiled there.
[17:31] Gerry: But people speak English very differently, and it really matters.
[17:34] Pearse: It can mean different things.
[17:35] Gerry: Exactly. It really matters that you are able to sort of have those face-to-face and get to know people. So a lot of my time is spent travelling, but mostly I’m here and mostly I’m sort of in meeting with stakeholders whether they be firms, consumer representatives, civil society representatives and frankly just sort of them working with staff to think about the issues.
[18:05] Pearse: It’s a huge remit.
18:06] Gerry: This being one of the kind of crypto and blockchain being an innovation.
[18:07] Pearse: Director of financial regulation policy and risk, I mean that is an enormous mandate. You must never sleep.
[18:13] Gerry: I sleep. No. But it’s a very interesting role and I’ve been very fortunate to do it.
[18:21] Pearse: It’s at the very heart of what a regulator is.
[18:24] Lory: One of the quick things to discuss, as people want to get into the crypto, blockchain and Web3 industry in terms of careers, there are also opportunities in the central bank. Would that be fair?
[18:37] Gerry: Oh, very definitely.
[18:38] Pearse: Yes, good opportunities as well.
[18:40] Gerry: Very definitely. And again, I would say, from my own experience coming back here, joining the central bank nine years ago, it’s a great place to work. It’s genuinely a great place to work in the sense that people are very much driven by the public interest aspect of things. But very good culture in which to work. We have very flexible post-COVID, we have a very 50% on-site, 50% home type of arrangement. Really good colleagues, really a fun place to work and fundamentally doing an important job and a really interesting job so.
[19:19] Pearse: Without any prompting bribery and or corruption I can concur with that because I know quite a lot of people a lot of lawyers who have joined CBI and I’ve never heard a bad word from any of them which is really saying something that’s.
[19:29] Gerry: That’s very good. It doesn’t surprise me I mean it’s hard work and it’s demanding work but it is really interesting and Lory a little bit to your question. So, I mean, we always have, we have kind of turnover, I guess, more or less in line with sort of turnover in industry more widely. But of course, as the nature of financial services is changing and as tech and innovation, and indeed other new areas, such as climate, sustainable finance, etc, as they become more and more embedded in the financial system, then of course our capability needs also change. So a really interesting challenge at the moment is getting that balance of sort of financial services, acumen, the ability to do supervision, which takes strong judgment, certain determination to get good outcomes. But to combine that with some of the technological capabilities or some of the climate um understanding.
[20:36] Pearse: Hugely challenging.
[20:39] Gerry: There’s lots of room now for us to develop our capabilities.
[20:42] Pearse: In some areas in a lot of areas the commission leads the charge but you know you’re the body of the attack and you need to be fully au fait with what’s involved and if you take sustainability as an example, or AI, hugely challenging for a large institution to suddenly become an expert, relatively suddenly become an expert in AI, you know, where does one start, you know? Very difficult.
[21:03] Gerry: Yeah. I’ll come back to that.
[21:04] Lory: Switching gears. So at a macro and at a broad level, Gerry, what are your thoughts on blockchain, crypto and Web3?
[21:13] Gerry: So I think it’s, I mean, it’s really, it’s a very, very exciting, time and development, I would say. I mean, if you go back to the origins of Bitcoin and sort of look at the really significant, ground-breaking thinking that found expression in Bitcoin, massively exciting, I would say, with huge potential. That combination of the technological, the cryptographic, and the kind of the imaginative vision to put them together, which has laid the foundation for so much thereafter. So I think that’s the fundamental that I would say, is that kind of sense of this is a very exciting time and very exciting development. I think then the second thought I would have is we’re still at very early stages of it. Even though we’ve made huge strides and there’s been huge development, It’s still at an early stage. And where does it all go remains a very open question. I mean, we can see paths of development and trends of evolution. But in 10 years’ time, what will we look back and say? We didn’t know that was going to happen. We didn’t know that was going to happen. Look at the developments in the last 12 months in the area of AI and chat GPT and all of that. So one of the challenges then for a regulator is to sort of to have that sense of this is very exciting. It has loads of potential. We don’t know where it’s going to go. And one of the one of the, the facets of innovation is allowing things space to develop, to fail, to change, to grow, and all this. As a regulator, that’s a real challenge, right? Because your national temptations say, well, let’s make sure that works, etc. So, it’s trying to find that. So, that’s where we kind of, how we think about it. Massive potential, how do we allow that potential to flourish? While at the same time, if you like, holding the ring, I suppose is what I would say.
[23:32] Pearse: And all in the context of being part of a union that through the commission has demonstrated over the last number of years that it is not going to sit back and wait in relation to any area of advancement. It is going to lead the global charge in terms of regulation and legislation in some areas like sustainability with a volume that’s unprecedented. In other areas like AI and a pure global first and MECA, a global first. You know, the commission leads and of course the national regulators all participate. But it’s leading by legislation and leading by regulation so it is impossible, even if a regulator wanted to sit back and wait they can’t and of course they don’t but it’s an extraordinary situation we find ourselves in in the union with the plethora of legislation covering so many domains and the demands that places upon a regulator in areas that they’re not, as of today fully cognizant with and have to get up to speed very quickly.
[24:27] Gerry: Yeah and I think that’s right But I think, I mean, it’s very interesting to look at MICAR, the Markets and Crypto Assets Regulation, to give it its full title. And I think, I mean, I think when it comes to the areas of, you mentioned climate and sustainability and sustainable finance, and when it comes to the areas of sort of technological innovation and financial services, I think the European Commission has played a very well-considered role. I think they’ve really got the fact that you need to strike that balance between, on the one hand, not impinging unduly on the ability of things to find fertile soil and to flourish and to grow. And on the other hand to say but we also need there to be confidence and I think that’s one of the things for example about MECARs is trying to strike that balance between a regulatory framework which doesn’t. Overreach doesn’t kind of shut things down but at the same time says but we want we want there to be confidence we want people to be confident that if they’re dealing with the blockchain in financial services, they’re dealing with crypto that there’s sufficient underpinning to be confident that you know the financial system is not going to let them down.
[25:59] Pearse: And that segues nicely into two questions that were allocated to my good self, which I think we’ll deal with together, which is the role of CBI in relation to innovation, which having discussed here and me having kind of made the point that we’re all, we’re part of the European wagon. Actually, in this area, this is an Ireland-led area of innovation. So what we’ll talk about here in this segment is the role of CBI in tech-based innovation within an innovation-led financial services environment, number one. But number two, particular initiatives that CBI is in the process of launching and so on and so forth in relation to innovation, including the sandbox and so on. So that’s a general segue into discussing your role in innovation, which is a domestic initiative. Because a lot of what we’ve been talking about here is to date is about the European Union. But I think in truth, this is very domestic, you know.
[26:50] Gerry: I think that’s right. And let me answer the substance of it. But one thing I would say is that the approaches we take at the Central Bank of Ireland, we always have a very close regard to – there’s not much point in a European financial services sector for us ploughing our own furrow if it’s going to make us sort of an outlier. So we always try to think, okay, what do we think the right approach is? And then as part of that as well, how do we convince our European colleagues? So for example, on MECAR, and I’ll come back to your question, on MECAR, one of the things that we have been very, very keen, I’m sure we’ll come back to this, to do is to make sure that the European supervisory authorities, in particular the banking authority, EBA, and the securities and markets authority, ESMA, that as they, bring forward their work on MECAR, there’s a very strong collaborative approach between the different supervisors, right? Because as you say, it’s problematic if we’re doing one thing, France is doing another.
[28:04] Pearse: Correct.
[28:04] Gerry: Lithuania is doing another, Malta is doing another. So we press very hard for there to be coherent, consistent approaches across. So that’s just, it’s kind of on that little bit. But you’re right, of course, we as a Central Bank of Ireland, we have to work out what is our approach to innovation? What do we think about it? How do we go about it? And I think it goes back to the first question, Lory, that you asked, which is, what is the central bank? What is our role? And what I said there was that we see our role as being designing and implementing regulation, which allows the financial sector, to fulfil its potential in supporting the citizens of Ireland and in supporting the economy, right? So it’s about the outcomes, right? You’ve got to have, for a financial system to work well, there’s got to be good competition. You know, for customers to get the best products, to get their needs serviced at the best value, to have sort of new products which deliver new things for them. In other words, let’s say reduce transaction costs, make it easier to change their euros into dollars or into whatever other currency it may be. You need things to develop and change and improve and go forward. So you need innovation. So that’s our perspective. Our perspective is we’re regulating the financial sector in Ireland. We’re contributing to the regulation of the financial sector across Europe. We want our regulation to be consistent with a financial sector that is innovating, that is enjoying good competition. But also, of course, that is doing so in a way that is securing their customers’ interest. So it’s always that balance. And at times it’s a very difficult balance and we don’t always get it right. But trying to ensure that, on the one hand, we’re saying to firms, okay, if you’re a regulated financial firm, you need to be in the mindset of securing your customers’ interests. And we want to see that happen in a market that is innovative and based on sound competition.
[30:22] Pearse: And segwaying using the word innovation because that’s the word that’s going to come up again and again over the rest of this interview and indeed in this room, given who we are on this side of the chairs. Let’s talk a little bit about the innovation hub, this area, this idea of pushing out a policy in relation to promoting innovation or facilitating innovation or whatever the correct expression is, including the fantastically interesting area of developing a sandbox, which is something that industry has been calling for a long time, time perhaps not in all cases being fully cognizant of what it might look like. But You know liking the idea, what overall is this strategy what is what does it look like and what will it look like as it’s pushed out?
[31:06] Gerry: Yeah so I mean you use the word strategy and maybe that’s kind of a nice little hook for me in a way which is that we at the central bank of Ireland we published a new five-year strategy two years ago now. And in that strategy, we said, okay, what are the things that will really matter, taking this five-year perspective? And we identified four things. One was that our whole role around just what we call safeguarding, making sure that the system remains sound, stable, and functioning well. Another was that we continue to continue to transform in line with the financial system and the economy transforming. But two features that are really, really important for this conversation. One is we say we must be future focused. We must have an approach which is based on not the system as it has been, but the system as it will be and our role in making sure that that’s the best it can be. And secondly, that we do that in a way which is, and we use the phrase, open and engaged. Again, we’re putting at the heart of our strategy the idea that for a central bank regulator, you need to be engaged in the ecosystem. We need to be hearing and we need to be explaining. You know, it’s very easy. And traditionally, maybe central banks, it’s been, well, more command and control.
[32:35] Pearse: Yeah, yeah.
[32:36] Gerry: Right? Now, that’s not to say that we sort of say, that we’re not saying, we will still make the decisions. We’ll still make the regulations and we’ll still implement those regulations. But the world is moving so fast and things are changing so quickly and it’s so complex. We have to understand what’s happening. We have to understand the insights sites that this massive and fast ecosystem is producing. So we have to be engaged with it.
[33:05] Pearse: Is that one of the primary drivers in the creation of a sandbox, which, you know, would give, let’s say, Lory Inc., if Lory Inc. was to enter into the sandbox, the ability to chat to you, which is very valuable. But, you know, what does it give CBI? What would it give CBI? Is it the ability to chat to the likes of Lory, who would otherwise not, for want of a better way of putting it, get into the building.
[33:26] Gerry: So I think, Lory would always be, always be.
[33:29] Lory: Thank you.
[33:30] Gerry: And indeed our building is open to the public so anyone can come in.
[33:32] Pearse: Yes, that’s true. There is a museum there.
[33:34] Gerry: But I think it comes back to the sort of the, the two things, right? So the future focused and the open and engaged, those two bits. We set up, five years ago, 2018, we set up the Innovation Hub. That was our first foray, our first step into the space.
[33:53] Pearse: Which was very welcome.
[33:54] Gerry: Which was very welcome. And it performed very well. I mean, I was looking back at the figures. I mean, over those five years, we’ve had in around 400 different entities.
[34:03] Pearse: A great touch point with the CBI. Exactly. A great way of getting to talk to the right people.
[34:08] Gerry: Precisely that.
[34:09] Pearse: Very valuable.
[34:10] Gerry: It served two purposes. One was that, you know, start-ups who are getting into the fintech space. But, I mean, regulation, what regulation? That’s not something they’ve had to think about before. And the central bank, I mean, dealing with the central bank, well, the central bank’s, you know, how do you even deal with the central bank? I mean, those are genuine.
[34:28] Pearse: Somewhat scary.
[34:29] Gerry: Yeah, you know, the central bank had this idea of sort of monolithic buildings and how do you get there?
[34:34] Pearse: And you need to lawyer up before you go in.
[34:36] Gerry: All of that. So one idea was that, you know, we make it easy, friendly, you know, open access. If you have an idea.
[34:46] Pearse: It was all achieved.
[34:47] Gerry: It’s all coming to you. Well, thank you for saying that, Pearse. But then also for us, I mean, precisely that we then, we know things through the Innovation Hub that we just wouldn’t have known, you know, or that it would have taken us three years to know. In fact, it took us three months to know because we had the conversation. And we had, and we were talking about this earlier, Pearse, I mean, in order to make the Innovation Hub work, we had to create internally networks of people. So people who are dealing with IT, people who are dealing with the funds authorization area, people who are working with banks, payment firms, policy people, supervisory people, a whole network in turn, it kind of forced us to think integrated.
[35:26] Pearse: Fintech is not a thing. Fintech is lots of bits of things.
[35:29] Gerry: Exactly.
[35:29] Pearse: Yeah, and it does require collaboration.
[35:30] Gerry: It’s all new.
[35:31] Pearse: Horizontal collaboration across an organisation.
[35:33] Gerry: And so much of it is people putting ideas together, right? People sort of saying, well, if you think about that, and you think about that, and you think about that, and you put those together, well, now you’ve got something new. And we’re going, okay, well, we don’t think like that.
[35:45] Pearse: Nobody’s ever thought of putting those two things together before.
[35:47] Gerry: It’s for us trying to say, how do we bring them together as well? So that’s been really successful. But it was, I guess, you know, it was open and engaged mark one, I suppose. And I think what we’ve realized is that, first of all, that approach, that innovation hub, we can enhance that. So we can do more. We can make the portals easier. We can make the sort of the structures more straightforward. We can provide more information. So part of what we’re doing is enhancing that. Secondly, we’re setting up a kind of a digital knowledge centre. So, again, in a very simple, in a way, but nonetheless important sort of to say, okay, we will make as much information as we can in a structured way available at a central place. And then, and I suppose this is the real change, is the idea that we set up a sandbox. Now, you’re right to say, Pearse, I mean, we’ve been asked for quite a while, shouldn’t you have a sandbox? Doesn’t everyone have a sandbox? Why don’t you have a sandbox? And what was interesting to us is, you know, and we talked a lot to our European and international colleagues, everyone had a different idea of what a sandbox was.
[36:55] Pearse: Exactly.
[36:55] Gerry: So that’s kind of interesting. So the question for us wasn’t per se, will we have a sandbox, but what’s the best thing to do in the kind of sandbox space? And so we have a consultation out at the moment as you rightly allude to and where we’re basically saying this is what we think will be the best thing for the Irish context and that is a sandbox which is first of all thematic. Right so we will on a rolling basis say okay this is the theme yah that we think we would like to explore now that won’t be just okay we’d like to explore thing but it’ll be based on our engagement through for example the innovation hub our engagement with a whole range of different stakeholders. Okay this this theme seems to be a very um interesting and timely one so for example over the last little while push payment fraud for example is something that people have been talking about a lot and saying to us is there not something that could be done in the kind of tech start-up space that would help with that. I just mentioned that not sustainable finance, greenwashing. Anti-money laundering. There’s a whole array. I mean, there’s so many things. So adopt a thematic approach. Secondly, to work with partners. So again, one of the things that we have found really positive, and of course, Blockchain Ireland is part of that ecosystem, over the last three or five years has been this relationship of engagement, collaboration, with a whole range of different types of sort of partners, incubators, different types of stakeholders, different types of organisations and associations. So if we work with Partners on a rolling basis to create a kind of the thematic engagement for a particular maybe six month period of time and so therefore you get the collaboration between ourselves as the regulator, the partners let’s say the business model incubators and then the start-ups and it won’t just be start-ups right so it’s by no means focused on start-ups alone it’s basically anyone who’s got innovative fintech-type technology-based ideas, those three to come together. We think that gives us a good bang for our buck. And then the third part of what we’ll do is open that then to applications.
[39:21] Pearse: It’s fantastic. I mean, let’s be honest, central banks are and still are, were and still are, rather daunting places. And traditionally, the only way you could engage with them was to begin your MiFID application. And that’s not a place in which you wish to quote unquote engage with anybody you know. But this area of focus allows companies like ourselves Lory and so on to you know come together and to go in and talk, and to say this is the plan and get fantastic feedback from the regulator. Very clear, feedback or in some cases not clear on the giving example; well no one’s ever done that before that’s really interesting we need to go and think about that, fantastically interesting. And if the sandbox, for instance, provided, you know, some data, whether, you know, real live data, that’s fantastically useful for corporations looking to train AI engines and the like and so on. So there’s a huge amount of potential here for both the industry and the regulator, I think, to gain mutual benefit. Fantastic.
[40:22] Lory: Switching gear again, Gerry, what are your thoughts on central bank digital currencies and more specifically the digital euro?
[40:31] Gerry: So that’s a big and important question. And I won’t do full justice to it in kind of this kind of short session. But let me say a couple of things. I think the first thing to say is, fundamentally, it’s a political question. Right? So we are a central bank, we’re part of the European system of central banks, which is headed by the ECB. And the ECB has done a lot of work in relation to the development of a digital euro. And lots of really good work. And we’ve basically gone through the first phase, which has been the investigation phase in the ECB, and now we’re at the preparation phase. Really importantly, the ECB has said, this has to wait for the political decision. So the European Commission has put forward a proposal about how a digital euro might take shape and that, the discussion around that political package, and I should say it’s accompanied also by a package about the ongoing requirement for cash availability, in order to be clear about that. And we at the Central Bank of Ireland are completely committed to the availability of cash. It is highly valued by citizens and we’re completely committed to that. When you think about the digital euro, the challenge is not a technical one, the challenge is making it work well for the economy and the citizen, back to that. I think, you know when you think about the relationship, between the sovereign if that is the state and the citizen money; the reliability of money has always been at the heart of that so you go back into ancient times to Greek roman times, coins the sort of the stability of value and of currency has always been at the heart of the relationship between the state and the citizen. So I think there’s this huge logic in the idea that when money has become so electronic, you will need to have genuinely a digital euro. Now people say, well, isn’t it all electronic already? Well, it’s not. At the moment, even though it sort of, it feels like it is, there are layers of intermediation.
[43:12] Pearse: Indeed. What will the euro, digital euro, mean for those layers, in particular the payment industry?
[43:17] Gerry: Well, I’ll come back to that in a moment. But I think the first thing to say is that this is basically saying now the fundamental, the underlying money can be electronic.
And given the amount of innovation that’s going on across so many different things that we’ve been discussing and will discuss, I think there’s a real sort of strength in the case that you would want the ability for society’s money to be electronic. That sort of cuts out lots of other things. But then, but then, there are some real challenges with that. And for me, the most important one is that the citizen, has no doubts about the reliability, the security, the appropriate confidentiality. And we see this, we see this discussion. Well, does that mean the state will know all the transactions that I have? Does that mean that I’ve no longer got sort of a sense of privacy around how I use my money? so it’s now of course the digital euro is being designed so that it will be confidential.
[44:30] Pearse: Identity is the key and management of identity is.
[44:32] Gerry: Exactly.
[44:33] Pearse: Which of course is not the natural remit of a central bank. So another example of them getting into areas that.
[44:38] Gerry: But what’s really important is really important that the political discussion takes place so that people don’t feel where did that come from and how do I trust it so I think that’s really important. Then I mean I think the question you were alluding to then is how does it interact with the existing financial system? So I think a really key part of all of this, and this is what the ECB has been really focused on, is making sure that as we were to move to the rolling out of a digital euro, that that would be done in an orderly manner, in a way which was not disruptive, of the financial system. So for example, the idea that you’d have a limit on the amount of money that could be held digitally in order to avoid undue disruption. That’s again, that’s not a discussion that has reached its end by any means but it’s part of the discussion that needs to be had how do you make sure that there’s a an orderly implementation.
[45:31] Pearse: Orderly is the most important word there hugely challenging but it will change our lives fundamentally on a day to day basis you know. Let’s move on we’re just conscious of time actually we’ve been having a marvellous discussion but the clock is against us let’s talk let’s go back to MICA or MICAR. My crib notes here tell me I should be asking about your views, but I think to a certain extent we’ve done that already. Just before Christmas, just before the end of the year, the Department of Finance issued a document in relation to a consultation exercise, setting out some findings and rules, if you like, or the state of play in relation to the transition period. It will be 12 months in Ireland. And then in relation to the grandfathering of VASPs into what are called CASPs, crypto asset service providers, and how easy or not easy that transition may be. Would you talk to us a little bit about that, Gerry. Please?
[46:28] Gerry: I think what is very interesting about MECAR, and let me come at that question at the transition momentarily, but just worth just saying a little bit more about MECAR before I get to that, which is, and we touched on this, I mean, I think the design of it is well judged. I think the European Commission has done a good job and they’ve basically said, you know, there are three things that are happening in this space that they want to look at. One is the issuance of tokens. So whether those be e-money tokens or what are called asset reference tokens, tokens which reference something else other than just a single currency. And they basically put in place a set of rules around if you’re issuing e-money tokens or asset reference tokens, then here are the criteria about how you must run yourself to be a good quality firm because people will be relying on you. Here’s the kind of the type of safekeeping you need to have in place to make sure that the money is there when needed. Here is the rules around redemption so that people can get their money back. And here’s how you have to treat your customers in an appropriate manner. So very, very sensible. I think it’s very clear if you are issuing these tokens. Secondly, if you are a, and use the word CASP, crypto asset service provider, and that could be, you might be an exchange, you might be a platform where they are held, you might be a depository, you might be providing advice. So if you’re a crypto asset service provider, then again, people are really relying on you. And here are the things that you need to do in terms of governance, in terms of the quality of the service you offer and in terms of how you treat your customers. And then thirdly, the one thing that MECAR decided it would not do would be to regulate directly, unbacked crypto assets.
[48:41] Pearse: Yes.
[48:41] Gerry: Okay, so crypto assets which don’t have a reference, whether it be a e-money or currency or… Now, so, you know, many of the crypto products that you’ll all be familiar with are like that and don’t have a backing. The commission in this proposal, which we supported, decided it didn’t want to regulate those products because it felt that those products are not financial products. And they shouldn’t have the imprimatur of being financial products because there is no, there’s nothing underneath them. It did, however, say, if you are a CASP, a crypto asset service provider, dealing with such products, then you are regulated, right? So it’s a very nice balance, I think. So you’ve got the issuers of EMTs and ARTs, you’ve got CASPs, and then you’ve got the rules around unbacked crypto. And there, if you’re a CASP dealing with unbacked crypto, you are caught, but the product itself is not. I think that’s sort of well judged. And that kind of brings us a little bit to the Central Bank of Ireland’s perspective on this. And, you know, and Lory, you asked a question earlier about sort of our view on blockchain, Web3, crypto, etc. And I told you how positive we are about the sort of the development, the potential that there is there. But we also have a very big concern, right? We have a very big concern, and it’s just about one thing. It’s about unbacked crypto that are heavily marketed as for speculative purposes to retail customers. That’s a mouthful, right? But each element is important, right? Where we see unbacked crypto, in other words, things that don’t have an inherent underlying, and they are heavily marketed, right? So you’ve got the whole Finfluencer activity going on. And they’re being sold to retail investors, for speculative purposes, we think that is problematic, okay? And we said so very clearly, and we make no hesitations about it, and we engage with our European colleagues in that discussion, you know, to sort of make clear that this is where we think Europe should largely be. And that’s not to say, right, that there isn’t lots of potential in unbacked crypto, right? And we get that. We get that we’re a central bank regulator. We don’t know all the things that one might know about how Web3 is developing, about how important unbacked crypto can be in lots of different contexts. And we’re not positive about that. We’re simply saying it’s this particular use where it’s being heavily sold for speculative purposes that we are concerned about. And that feeds through to our approach. So I just thought it was worth saying that here.
[51:52] Pearse: Yes. That’s a very interesting point.
[51:54] Gerry: And then just coming to the separate point about the transition timeline, look, you know, Ireland has, I mean, Ireland is a very interesting, very positive place around digital innovation and tech and this whole space.
[52:13] Pearse: We all agree with that.
[52:14] Gerry: And again, I alluded to the fact, you know, obviously we’re the home to many, to the European headquarters of so much of the tech industry, which creates a very interesting environment in any event. We’ve got a highly educated workforce. We’ve got a very international workforce. We’ve got lots of activity between Ireland and all the rest of Europe because of the sort of the cross-border activity. And we’ve got high quality regulation and we’ve got a mindset which is very, very positive towards innovation and competition. So we’re in a really good space for that. As part of that, you know, we see a very material interest in crypto, in CASP authorization, in ENT, ART authorization. And we are very actively engaged with firms who will want to be authorized in that space, whether they’re already VASPs, virtual asset service providers for money laundering, anti-money laundering purposes or not.
[53:17] Pearse: I think there’ll be a lot of applications for CASP. That’s my gut feeling. Because there was arbitrage in relation to VASPs. It was possible. But that’s removed or will be removed in relation to the CASP. So I think folks will take a different view as to their preferred jurisdiction. And I think there will be a lot of applications.
[53:32] Gerry: So we are preparing ourselves and, as I say, very much engaged with those who are interested in participating. The level, technical terms, but Europe’s development of what’s called the level two regulations, that is sort of the regulations that sit underneath the legislation, that is underway at the moment to develop those. They will be hopefully finalised in the next five or six months. And at that place, we will be able to open formally our authorisation process. But until they’re there, we can’t formally open them. But we do want firms to engage. You know, it’s very clear, the earlier you engage, the better all around.
[54:14] Pearse: And based upon my extensive research in the car on the way out here, there is no less than 10 consultation exercises underway at the moment. Five, I think the commission has four or five on the go, and the EBA has got four or five on the go. It amounts to 10 in relation to MECA. It’s extraordinary, the amount of activity.
[54:31] Gerry: Yeah. And it’s all happening to a very short timeline.
[54:33] Pearse: Very short.
[54:34] Gerry: But. So then that brings me to your question, in MICAR it says that member states can allow up to 18 months after the implementation date, which for CASPs is the end of 2024. We can allow 18 months thereafter for firms to continue before they have authorisation. We’ve been having discussion, the Department of Finance have been having discussion, and more importantly, I guess, the European Super Securities Markets Authority, ESMA, has been having discussion. And what the nature of that discussion has been is what’s the right balance? So if the legislation says up to 18 months, what’s the right balance between, on the one hand, making sure we all have enough time and certainty about the process? And on the other hand, once the legislation is in, moving to have it implemented reasonably quickly. And I think a pretty strong consensus emerged that 12 months is the right balance. That in other words 12 months is and that puts pressure on us as regulators right to be able to get the authorization process done
[55:47] Pearse: That’s a good very good point.
[55:50] Gerry: But at the same time it means that you know people who are expecting things to be authorized, those things actually are authorized uh and there’s not a very long period where they’re not yeah so it’s a balance.
[56:05] Pearse: And also very importantly in relation to the existing VASPs and which of which I think there’s five in Ireland they will not get a easy quote-unquote, grandfathering mechanism from VASPs to CASPs, they go through the full procedure.
[56:18] Gerry: So I mean we’ve been asked about this, I mean they do go through the full procedure and that they need to be authorized. However of course we know them.
56:30] Pearse: Right very good point.
[56:31] Gerry: Because we have, we have, it’s registered.
[56:34] Pearse: And if I might interrupt by saying that in Ireland those VASPs were put to perhaps a somewhat higher degree of scrutiny than in other jurisdictions which took VASP registrations.
[56:45] Gerry: And that’s…
[56:46] Pearse: Which is a very good point.
[56:47] Gerry: But an important development, and I mentioned it already, an important development is that when it comes to MICAR and CASPs, because it’s such a weightier, I suppose, piece of regulation, there is significant work underway in Europe. What I’d describe as real-time work to try and ensure that the approaches that are adopted in different jurisdictions don’t differ too much. Which is why ESMA, for example, came out with the 12 months, right? Because there’s no point sort of Ireland having 12 months if other jurisdictions have 18 months and it’s sort of, it’s all just becomes sort of a bit of a…
[57:22] Pearse: Being a CASP will be a very powerful authorisation. Very powerful.
[57:26] Lory: Definitely. An area that’s come up is the spot Bitcoin ETF approval by the SEC. Keen to get your thoughts.
[57:37] Gerry: So it was very interesting to see that decision over the recent couple of weeks. We have a well-articulated approach to crypto in the fund space as one that we have engaged with industry about a good deal. And it reflects what I was saying in terms of we are sceptical about unbacked crypto being heavily distributed to retail customers. So what we have said is that we have two types of funds, broadly speaking, sort of those that are for retail and those that are for what we call qualifying investors. Investors, which is basically professional investors. And what we say is that for professional investors, you can offer funds with crypto exposures. So if it’s an open-ended fund, that could be up to 20%. If it’s a closed-ended fund, that could be up to 50% of your exposures. One of the challenges that is still under discussion is safekeeping. So up until now, Now, the focus has been more on sort of crypto futures and derivatives. But we are open to direct holdings where they are demonstrated to be able to be well safe kept. So that’s our context. The challenge with ETFs, of course, is that they are available to retail investors. and they are traded on secondary markets, so it’s very easy to get in and out. So in a way, where we are at the moment, which is our limitation to professional investors, that’s where we kind of are pretty comfortable is the right place to be at this point in time.
[59:26] Pearse: Very interesting. Very interesting. We’ll move on to a broader question, which is that we are representatives here at Blockchain Ireland. And I suppose the soft leading question is, you know, what can Blockchain Ireland do, if anything, to assist CBI in its future focus on innovation slash digital assets? Is there something Blockchain Ireland can do to assist in this regard?
[59:49] Gerry: So look, I think, I mean, Blockchain Ireland is a really valuable, really important, really valued interlocutor and we’ve had lots of engagement over the time.
And I know the colleagues across the bank, the central bank have been engaging with different parts of Blockchain Ireland’s work. So first thing is I say is let’s continue that. I mean, I mentioned earlier sort of the importance we place on that sense of openness and engagement, that two-way process. So, you know, our door is open and we want to engage with you. I know in the context, for example, of our consultation paper currently out there about the sandbox and all of that, we engaged with Blockchain Ireland early on in that and we have ongoing engagement. So, I think that would be the second thing. So, your sort of continued contribution assistance.
[1:00:42] Pearse: Yes, and also the payments consultation has a tech angle as well at the moment. So, that there’s a lot there yeah thank you great.
[1:00:49] Lory: It’s Gerry actually we started this conversation believe it or not back in your office I think it was 2016 um that unfortunately you’ve had my me knocking on your door about this subject.
[1:00:49] Gerry: Fortunately Lory.
[1:01:02] Lory: So look, a question we ask all of our podcast guests is to share a podcast that you listen to or your favourite podcast, which you think listeners might also enjoy?
[1:01:15] Gerry: Oh, okay. So, well, the podcast that springs to mind, let me say, that I am a regular listen to is a podcast called The Rest is Politics. It’s hosted by Alastair Campbell and Rory Stewart, UK former politicos, let me say, not politicians per se, one from the Labour side, one from the Tory side. For me, what is really interesting about that podcast is that their fundamental motto or the thing that they’re trying to do is to disagree agreeably. And I think that That’s at the heart of… Actually, it’s something that we in Ireland, I think, are really good at doing. And one of our strengths is one of the reasons, I think, why we do well in Europe, right? We have a perspective. We bring it to the table. We argue it vociferously. And we try and find something.
[1:02:17] Pearse: But we’re not dogmatic.
[1:02:18] Gerry: And if we don’t.
[1:02:18] Pearse: We’re not dogmatic.
[1:02:19] Gerry: We don’t.
[1:02:19] Pearse: Exactly.
[1:02:20] Gerry: So I think there’s something about, yeah, and you look around the world and we look at the geopolitical tensions that there are and the challenges, being able to disagree agreeably, I think is a pretty important thing.
[1:02:30] Pearse: Or to agree disagreeably.
[1:02:32] Gerry: Not so good.
[1:02:33] Pearse: That’s full compromise. And we’re quite good at that as well.
[1:02:37] Lory: And last question, Gerry, if people want to follow you, the work you do, the work the Central Bank does, where is the best place people can go?
[1:02:45] Gerry: Yeah, so I mean, I would say, you know probably the best place is for the kind of ease of access is our LinkedIn sort of channels um central bank formal LinkedIn channel. There’s lots there, my own personal LinkedIn channel, I try to put a reasonable amount of sort of interesting things up there and of course our website we have a consumer corner and we have a lot you know, we keep that a very live place and an interesting place to be you’re.
[1:03:09] Pearse: You’re not on TikTok yet?
[1:03:10] Not on TikTok or other performative media.
[1:03:14] Gerry: Pearse: Not yet.
[1:03:15] Lory: Well, fantastic. Look, I know hopefully we’ll see you again shortly as part of Blockchain Ireland Week as well, which is coming up in May. But Mr. Gerry Cross, thank you very much for your time today.
[1:03:24] Pearse: Thank you Gerry.
[1:03:25] Gerry: Thank you Lory. Thank you Pearse. Really enjoyed it .
[1:03:28] Lory: So as we wrap up episode three of Blockchain Leaders Insights and a focus on regulation, there were definitely three things that I think came across for me. So number one, I think the hard work that the Central Bank of Ireland has done over the last 10 years and more to make Ireland a credible jurisdiction, not only in Europe, but around the globe. Number two, I think it’s also the recent and noticeable focus when it comes to being open and engaged through the innovation hub. Now, as that moves on to the next phase around the regulatory sandbox, and even the fact that Gerry was here with us today, you know, a number of years ago, certainly when I started engaging with Central Bank, I don’t think that was possible. So there are demonstrable points of evidence to show how that shift has occurred. And then thirdly, I really love that point around, I guess, the importance of being able to disagree agreeably and the role that I guess the central bank plays to embody that at a national and at a European and global level. So thanks for listening. We will see you again soon for our next episode.