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Digital assets project launched: new public-private collaboration announced, to shed light on the digital asset ecosystem

1 March 2022

The article at a glance

Multi-year Cambridge Digital Assets Programme launched with 16 institutional research collaborators to create open-access datasets and tools to inform digital public dialogue and decision-making in such areas as the environment, infrastructure and cryptocurrencies.

Multi-year Cambridge Digital Assets Programme launched with 16 institutional research collaborators to create open-access datasets and tools to inform digital public dialogue and decision-making in such areas as the environment, infrastructure and cryptocurrencies.

The Cambridge Centre for Alternative Finance (CCAF) at Cambridge Judge Business School today announced the launch of the Cambridge Digital Assets Programme (CDAP), a research initiative in collaboration with 16 leading banks, public sector agencies and private organisations to shed light on the rapid digitisation of assets and value transfer systems.

Over an initial period of two years, the CCAF will work with public and private organisations to create the empirical data, tools, and insights necessary to facilitate an evidence-based public dialogue about the opportunities and risks presented by the growing digital asset ecosystem.

The CDAP’s institutional research collaborators are:

  • Accenture
  • Bank for International Settlements (BIS) Innovation Hub
  • British International Investment (BII)
  • Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC)
  • EY
  • Fidelity
  • UK Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO)
  • Goldman Sachs
  • Inter-American Development Bank (IDB)
  • International Monetary Fund (IMF)
  • Invesco
  • London Stock Exchange Group (LSEG)
  • Mastercard
  • MSCI
  • Visa
  • World Bank

The new programme builds on the CCAF’s existing work in creating digital tools such as the Cambridge Bitcoin Electricity Consumption Index (CBECI) and widely cited research reports including the Global Cryptoasset Benchmarking Study series. It is designed to address the broader ecosystem trends and issues through impactful research outputs that can help guide public opinion, inform regulation and policy discussion, as well as support evidence-based decision making by individuals and institutions globally.

Supporters of the programme include prominent public and private stakeholders from a variety of representative sectors within the ecosystem to promote diversity in views and facilitate exchange of multi-disciplinary insight. These supporters will also provide directional input and guidance to ensure practical and meaningful research output.

“The growing adoption of digital assets increasingly blurs the lines between roles, responsibilities and applicable rules, stretching the boundaries of long-term institutional arrangements,” says Bryan Zhang, Executive Director, CCAF. “The Cambridge Digital Assets Programme that we are launching today aims to meet the resulting need for greater clarity by providing data-driven insights through collaborative research involving public and private sector stakeholders.”

The research agenda for the programme will be centred around three workstreams covering distinct but related thematic areas. The first is focused on environmental implications and broader ESG (environmental, social and governance) considerations of digital assets and their associated services. The second area will look at the processes and configurations of Distributed Financial Market Infrastructure (dFMI), including the evolving constellation of networks, platforms, applications, and services. The third research stream will focus on emergent money systems – the “asset” side of the ecosystem – comprising crypto-assets, stable-coins, Central Bank Digital Currencies (CBDCs), as well as enterprise and consumer tokens.

“We have spent a lot of time developing a consistent framework that consolidates our efforts in the digital assets space and ensuring that we have the right collaborations in place to deliver insight and clarity,” says Michel Rauchs, Digital Assets Lead, CCAF. “We believe that this programme will provide decision-makers with the objective analysis and empirical evidence that they need to navigate the digital assets maze.”

Each research stream will convene a dedicated working group comprising CCAF researchers, domain experts, and representatives from supporting institutions of the programme. Collectively the programme is designed to implement highly collaborative research projects, generating, and analysing empirical data that yield timely insights with global impact.

Public-private sector research collaborators

The CDAP is a public-private sector research collaboration facilitated and hosted by the CCAF with the support of 16 collaborating institutions. To mark the launch of the CDAP, the CCAF and its public-private collaborators have provided (in alphabetical order) the following quotes to underscore the importance of this research initiative:


“Digital currencies are maturing, and as a growing number of central banks explore more efficient international payment and settlement arrangements, the Cambridge Digital Assets Programme will be critical to regulation and policy discussions that will address the needs of the global economy,” says John Velissarios, Accenture’s managing director, global head of digital currency. “We are thrilled to collaborate alongside so many leading institutions and help shape the future decisions on central bank digital currencies and other types of digital money substitutes.”

Bank for International Settlements (BIS) Innovation Hub

“The lightning speed of development in decentralised finance is relevant to the BIS from both a research and technology deployment perspective,” says Bénédicte Nolens, Head of the BIS Innovation Hub Hong Kong Centre. “It also closely ties to our work on central bank digital currencies (CBDCs). Given this, we look forward to working with the CDAP partners and to helping to push the frontier of knowledge in this space.”

Cambridge Centre for Alternative Finance (CCAF)

“A key aspect of this collaborative programme is to create academic, empirical research that enables evidence-based decisions to be made in the interests of the public good,” says Robert Wardrop, Director and Co-founder of the Cambridge Centre for Alternative Finance. “The ability to collaborate with such influential public and private institutions on the CDAP ensures that we are properly representing the digital assets ecosystem and receiving balanced input that will help inform the public dialogue.”

Dubai International Financial Centre Authority (DIFC)

“At DIFC, our mission is to drive the future of finance to unlock economic growth to have a positive impact of new technologies on society,” says Christian Kunz, Senior Vice President of Strategy at DIFC. “Since digital assets have an important role to play in the digitisation of the financial sector globally, the pace of innovation of which has been unprecedented, the DFSA, our financial regulator, has started issuing rules in 2021 on digital assets and will further expand them in 2022. This will foster the right environment for innovative companies in the UAE. Our partnership with the CCAF on digital assets research will continue to help us open new horizons in this for this dynamic sector, while carefully considering the risks and opportunities.”


We are thrilled to be working with the CCAF again, as it widens its field of play further into the digital asset space,” says Amarjit Singh, EMEIA Blockchain Leader at EY. “The depth and rigor of the research this collaboration has the potential to produce is both exciting and progressive.”


“As the digital assets ecosystem grows, so too does the need for data and insights that inform thoughtful dialogue about the associated opportunities and risks,” says Chris Tyrer, Head of Fidelity Digital Assets in Europe. “Collaborative research and analysis that result from programmes like the Cambridge Digital Assets Programme are important to furthering understanding and clarity on key topics that affect this nascent asset class.”

Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO)

 “The acceleration of digital assets and decentralised finance provides an exciting opportunity for the digital transformation of economies, supporting financial inclusion, local entrepreneurship and enabling digital public goods,” says Siân Parkinson, Inclusive Digital Finance Lead, UK FCDO. “We are pleased to partner with CCAF and support digital technologies that are inclusive, responsible and sustainable. We look forward to the analysis and learnings that will emerge from CDAP.“

Goldman Sachs

“We welcome this opportunity to work with such a broad array of industry leaders to collaborate on this impactful research across key digital assets trends,” says Mathew McDermott, Global Head of Digital Assets, Goldman Sachs. “We believe that greater transparency and understanding of the sector is vital as the usage of digital assets rapidly becomes mainstream in financial markets.”


“Invesco is proud to partner with CCAF on the launch of the Cambridge Digital Assets Programme (CDAP). As the pace of innovation accelerates, Invesco sees future possibilities to help people get more out of life through the disruptive potential of digital assets, specifically in broadening the reach of financial services to anyone with an internet connection,” says Donie Lochan, MD, Chief Technology Officer, Invesco. “This partnership will provide evidence-based tools to help inform decisions as we shift into a new landscape with digital currencies and assets and blockchain infrastructure.”

Inter-American Development Bank (IDB)

“The cryptoassets ecosystem is growing fast in Latin America and the Caribbean, and understanding its industrial organisation, business models, and reach is key for financial regulators and supervisors, investors, and financial consumers,” says Juan Ketterer, Connectivity, Markets and Finance Division Chief at IDB. “The Digital Assets Programme is a step forward towards such an objective.“

London Stock Exchange Group (LSEG)

“LSEG looks forward to working with CCAF and other stakeholders on this important initiative to explore the rapidly expanding area of digital assets,” says Geoff Horrell, Group Head of Innovation at LSEG. “An open model approach is central to LSEG’s ethos, working in partnership with participants to drive innovation across financial markets to solve challenges for our customers.”


“MSCI is excited to be involved in this new ecosystem of public and private sector stakeholders led by the Cambridge Centre for Alternative Finance,” says Stéphane Mattatia, Head of Thematic Indexes, at MSCI.  “The ongoing dialogue between these parties is going to enable MSCI to have a clearer understanding of how opportunities and risks are evolving, which will support the development of a robust, holistic set of digital asset solutions.”


“Industry collaboration and public-private partnerships will be vital in bringing the benefits of digital currencies to life in a sustainable, inclusive and secure way,” says Terry Angelos, SVP and Global Head of Fintech at Visa. “We’re excited to participate in rigorous academic forums like the Cambridge Digital Assets Programme to explore opportunities that scale and integrate digital assets responsibly.”