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中国在推动全球数字绿色债券市场方面的未来领导地位

2021-1-10 18:57

 

这是由复旦大学樊海国际金融学院副院长、复旦大学樊海金融科技研究中心副主任宋传志教授和张朝阳教授共同撰写的客座评论文章。


有许多爆炸的趋势加速收敛在即将到来的一年:1)数字的出现债券作为资本市场一个新的创新,2)这些类型的数字资产的最终监管在中国,3)的全球扩展绿色债券市场,4)中国的重视和领导在绿色金融和可持续发展。


债券工具数字化的好处有很多,首先也是最重要的是,通过提供获取全球资本的渠道,增加与传统机构以外的另类投资者阶层的联系,可以释放流动性。数字化可以将债券分成更小的最小投资规模,甚至散户投资者也可以参与。通过将债券数字化,可以利用区块链技术来简化发行方、承销商、投资者和生态系统参与者在主要发行和资产服务方面的协调过程。


除此之外,它还可以提供更高效的结算和灵活的支付选择,运营和交易成本可以比使用传统平台低90%。智能合约可以自动化债券发行的整个生命周期管理并强制遵从性。大数据/人工智能技术可以降低风险并监控异常活动。


在过去的一年里,第一批数字债券的发行方才出现。一个值得注意的例子是,主要食品和农业企业奥兰国际(Olam International)发行了亚洲首只4亿新元的银团数字公开公司债券。这是在2020年9月与新加坡SGX证券交易所、汇丰银行和淡马锡共同完成的。


数字债券创新商业化之际,中国正迅速加快部署世界上最早的央行数字货币之一。在不到一年的时间里,数字人民币已经从2019年10月底的宣布发展到在中国大多数经济重要地区进行的全面压力测试。官方商业化计划于2022年奥运会前正式实施。下一步将是中国对数字资产的最终监管,特别是数字债券所归属的资产支持证券化品种。


这些首批举措代表了全球资本市场数字化的颠覆性,而此时正值新冠肺炎大流行正在催化全球向数字经济和可持续发展的系统性转变的关键转折点。

 

绿色债券市场


2019年,全球共发行了价值约2650亿澳元的绿色债券,尽管2019冠状病毒病(COVID-19)增长放缓,但2020年的绿色债券发行量有望达到3500亿美元。据气候债券倡议组织(CBI)估计,全球气候变化解决方案债券市场规模约为100万亿美元。由于COVID-19大流行,服务于各种社会需求的社会纽带,也被称为社会责任投资(SRI),作为一个市场也呈爆炸式增长。2019年只有200亿美元的社会债券发行,但截至2020年10月,这个市场的规模已跃升至1050亿美元,是其规模的五倍多。绿色和社会纽带被归为可持续发展纽带这一更大的保护伞之下。


2019年9月,联合国推出了《负责任银行原则》,130家管理总资产达47万亿美元的金融机构(包括摩根大通(JP Morgan)和贝莱德(Blackrock)等机构,占全球银行业的三分之一)公开承诺致力于可持续发展和气候行动。


目前,对优质绿色债券的需求大于供应,因为金融机构在释放这些已分配资金方面有很高的合规门槛。绿色债券的评级依据多种替代准则,特别是由国际资本市场协会(International Capital Market Association)主办的独立秘书处领导的《绿色债券原则》(Green Bond Principles),以及英国工业联合会(CBI)制定的气候债券标准。这些指引旨在为透明度流程和披露规则制定标准,以促进绿色债券市场的诚信。


不幸的是,由于这些指导方针目前是自愿的,因此在“洗绿”市场上存在一个问题,即债券被贴上绿色标签,但实际上,由于没有执行,资金的使用并没有最终用于获得绿色认证的项目。环境、社会和治理(ESG)跟踪很困难,因为没有通用的标准或平台来跟踪下游发生的事情。

 

区块链解决了业务挑战


绿色债券市场的跟踪和合规问题是区块链技术的完美用例。因此,数字绿色债券不仅仅是传统债券市场的“有得即有失”的优化。相反,基于区块链的数字化代表了一种关键的创新,提供了ESG和绿色债券标准的透明度和跟踪能力,可以为这个爆炸式市场释放大量的全球流动性,目前该市场受到合规标准的支撑。


在跨境支付、贸易融资和供应链物流等应用领域,中国在企业区块链应用方面已经处于世界领先地位。区块链已成为国家重点,高调区块链措施如Blockchain-based服务网络(BSN)提供区块链互操作性造成大规模的企业采用在大陆以及带和道路,特别是在东盟国家新批准RCEP自由贸易协定的签约国。因此,中国在推动数字证券(如债券和其他资产支持工具)的监管和大规模采用方面处于非常有利的地位。


最近总统Xi大胆地宣布中国的意图是一个碳中和国家到2060年在2020年9月在联合国大会发表讲话。为了实现这一宏伟目标,中国正在动员全国各地发行绿色债券,包括地方政府、国有企业和私营企业。自2015年中国内地建立绿色债券市场以来,中国已成为全球最大的绿色债券发行国。据《南华早报》报道,2019年,中国发行了相当于590亿美元的人民币计价债券。


然而,根据CBI的数据,这些债券中只有大约一半符合国际标准。中国的指导方针(绿色债券支持项目目录下中国人民银行的监督和绿色债券国家发展改革委员会发布的指南文件)目前允许50%的债券收益用于一般营运资金不是专门为特定的专用绿色项目,远高于5%的气候债券强加的限制标准。将中国的指导方针与国际标准相融合,将向外国投资者开放国内绿色债券市场。

 

债券收益率差


目前,国际债券市场与中国内地市场的收益率差距较大。在欧元区和日本,利率为负或接近于零,而在中国,同等产品的收益率可高达3%。有鉴于此,有大量国际资金正在寻找投资场所,而中国是唯一一个有能力满足被压抑的数万亿美元绿色债券产品需求的国家。因此,当中国发行首个服务于全球市场的数字绿色债券时,将有一个完美的风暴机会。区块链技术实施的标准和透明度,可以满足国际投资者更加严格的合规要求。


这些最初的举措将符合中国的长期战略,最终推动全球范围内受监管的数字资产和世界其他经济体的绿色债券发行。2020年是充满变化和动荡的一年,但也是数字化和可持续融资协同融合的一年。对于政府、企业和家庭来说,这是一个普遍具有挑战性的时刻。世界各国需要齐心协力,创建一个更加统一和全球化的金融生态系统,为更光明的未来重建社会。我们期待中国为未来的可持续发展开辟一条道路,世界其他国家也可以效仿,对人类产生积极的影响。

 

This is a guest opinion post from Professor Michael Sung, Co-Director of the Fudan Fanhai Fintech Research Center and Charles Chang, Associate Dean of Academics, Fanhai International School of Finance, Fudan University, China.

There are a number of accelerating trends that will explosively converge in the upcoming year: 1) the advent of digital bonds as a new innovation for capital markets, 2) the eventual regulation of these type of digital assets in China, 3) the global scaling of the green bond market, 4) China’s emphasis and leadership in green finance and sustainable development.

The benefits of digitalizing a bond instrument are numerous, the first and foremost being the ability to unlock liquidity by providing access to global capital and increasing connectivity to alternative investor classes beyond traditional institutions. Digitalization can allow the fractionalization of a bond into smaller minimum investment sizes so that even retail investors can participate. By digitalizing the bond, it is possible to leverage blockchain technology to streamline the coordination processes for issuers, underwriters, investors, and ecosystem participants across the primary issuance and asset servicing. 

Beyond that, there can be much more efficient settlement and flexible optionality for payments, with operational and transaction costs that can be 90% less than using traditional platforms. Smart contracts can automate the full lifecycle management of the bond offering and enforce compliance. And big data/AI techniques can reduce risk and monitor for abnormal activity. 

The first issuances for digital bonds are now just popping up this past year. A notable example is Asia’s first syndicated digital public corporate bond S$400 million issuance by Olam International, a major food and agribusiness company. This was done in conjunction with Singapore’s SGX stock exchange, HSBC, and Temasek in September 2020. 

The commercialization of digital bond innovation comes at a time when China is rapidly gearing up to scale the deployment of one of the first central bank digital currencies in the world. In less than a year, the digital RMB has gone from an announcement in late October 2019 to full-scale stress-testing across most of the economically important regions in China. Official commercialization is planned in time for the Olympics in 2022. The next step will be China’s eventual regulation of digital assets, particularly the asset-backed securitized variety that digital bonds classify as.

These first moves representing the disruptive digitalization of global capital markets come at a critical inflection point where the COVID-19 pandemic is catalyzing a world-wide systemic shift toward the digital economy and sustainable development. 

The green bond market

The world has issued roughly a $265 billion worth of green bonds in 2019, and despite the COVID-19 slowdown, 2020 is on track to end up with $350 billion of issuances. Overall, there is an estimated $100 trillion bond market for climate change solutions, according to the Climate Bond Initiative (CBI). Social bonds, also known as Social Responsibility Investments (SRI), which serve a wide variety of social needs, is also exploding as a market due to the COVID-19 pandemic. There were only $20 billion of social bonds issued in 2019, but this market has jumped to over five times the size to $105 billion as of October 2020. Together, green and social bonds are grouped under the larger umbrella of sustainability bonds. 

In September 2019, the UN launched the Principles for Responsible Banking where 130 financial institutions with total combined assets under management of $47 trillion (including the likes of JP Morgan and Blackrock and representing one-third of the global banking sector) committed publicly to sustainability and climate action. 

There is currently more demand for high-quality green bonds than supply, as there is a high bar for compliance by financial institutions to unlock these allocated funds. Green bonds are rated by a number of alternative guidelines, notably the Green Bond Principles, led by an independent secretariat hosted by the International Capital Market Association, as well as the Climate Bonds Standard set by the CBI. These guidelines are meant to set the standards for the transparency process and disclosure rules to promote the integrity of the green bond market. 

Unfortunately, because these guidelines are currently voluntary, there is a problem in the market of “greenwashing,” whereby bonds are labeled as green, but in actuality, the use of funds do not end up in green-certified projects because there is no enforcement. Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) tracking is difficult since there is no universal standard or platform to track what happens downstream. 

Blockchain addresses the business challenge

The problem of tracking and compliance in the green bond market is the perfect use case for blockchain technology. Thus, digital green bonds are not just a nice-to-have optimization on the traditional bond market. Rather blockchain-based digitalization represents a critical enabling innovation to provide the ESG and green bond standards transparency and tracking capabilities that can unlock the massive global liquidity for the exploding market, which is currently held up by compliance standards. 

China is already leading the world in enterprise blockchain adoption across applications such as cross-border payments, trade finance, and supply chain logistics. Blockchain has become a national priority, with high-profile blockchain initiatives such as the Blockchain-based Service Network (BSN) providing blockchain interoperability to drive massive enterprise adoption both on the mainland as well as on the Belt and Road, in particular across the ASEAN countries who are signatories to the newly ratified RCEP free trade agreement. Therefore China is in a very good position to drive the regulation and scaled adoption of digital securities such as bonds and other asset-backed instruments.

Recently President Xi boldly announced China’s intentions to be a carbon-neutral country by 2060 in a UN General Assembly Speech in September 2020. To meet this ambitious goal, China is mobilizing the entire country to issue green bonds en-masse across local governments, SOEs (state-owned enterprises), and private enterprise. China has already become the world’s largest green bonds issuer since establishing the mainland market in 2015. In 2019, China issued $59 billion equivalent in RMB-denominated bonds, according to the South China Morning Post

However, only around half of these issuances meet international standards, according to CBI. China’s guidelines (the Green Bond Endorsed Project Catalogue under supervision of the People’s Bank of China and the Green Bond Guidelines issued by the National Development Reform Commission) currently allows 50% of bond proceeds to be used for general working capital not specifically dedicated for specific green projects, well above the 5% limit imposed by the Climate Bonds Standard. Converging China’s guidelines to international standards will open up the domestic green bond market to foreign investors.

The bond yield gap

Currently, there is a large yield differential between international bond markets and the China mainland market. In the Eurozone and Japan, interest rates are negative or near zero, whereas in China, the equivalent products can yield upwards of 3%. Given this, there is a lot of international money looking for a place to park capital, with China being the only country with the scale to be able to service the multi-trillion-dollar pent-up demand for qualifying green bond products. Therefore, there will be a perfect storm opportunity for when China issues the first digital green bonds to service the global market. The standards and transparency enforced by blockchain technology can satisfy the more rigorous compliance demands of international investors. 

These first moves will fit into a longer-term strategy for China to eventually drive the global scaling of both regulated digital assets and green bond issuances by other economies around the world. 2020 has been a year of great change and turbulence, but one that has also set in motion the dynamics for a great synergistic convergence of digitalization and sustainable financing. The inflection points of these powerful dual movements come just in the nick of time during a universally challenging time for governments, businesses, and families alike. The nations of the world need to pull together to create a more unified and globalized financial ecosystem to rebuild society for a brighter future. Look for China to trailblaze a path for the future of sustainable development that the rest of the world can follow to make a positive impact for humanity.

 

原作者: Michael Sung, Charles Chang (op-ed) 来自: Ledger Insights