Central Bank Digital Currencies (CBDC) Explained

All you need to know about CDBC's

April 5, 2021

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Today we're going to dive into the world of CBDC's. I'm going to explain all the fundamentals of Central Bank Digital Currencies and how they affect the world of finance.

Let's get into it!

Central Bank Digital Currency Definition

A central bank digital currency (CBDC) is a centralized currency issued by a bank. They are also called digital fiat currencies. A CBDC does not use any kind of distributed ledger or blockchain.



Completely digital currency



With technology being an ever-changing, ever-improving factor in every field, the financial landscape sees rapid changes.

Over the past few years, digital money has been proposed in many sectors to make the turn away from cash smoother, and a few systems are already in the works.

Not only that, but the ongoing pandemic has had some major contributions to the rising usage of digital currency as the rate of online shopping has increased substantially.

It’s safe to say that a technological paradigm shift is underway.

The rise of various forms of cryptocurrencies, blockchains, and mobile payment systems have had two different impacts on the general audience and market: Excitement and skepticism.

Electronic money piques interest with its disruptive system alongside the distributed ledgers (DLT) system underpinning it. This was enough to catch the eyes of private financial institutions and central banks alike.

While some are impressed by the decentralized nature and transparency offered by DLTs, the other part of the population quickly dismiss it as a tactic of the idealists out of the banking system to bring the industry under their control.


The Future of Digital Currency

Virtual cash is what we would call a double-edged sword, mostly due to its fundamentally transnational attributes.

It shows us a world where efficiency can be gained by tapping into the unexplored investment and commercial avenues.

Financial and monetary transactions could be effortlessly boosted by yielding the sheer power of technology. The transition promises much potential in the section of policies.

However, everything is a mixed blessing. The risks are severe too. Governments have this continuous struggle with tax evasion, financial data security, money laundering, and possible manipulation in the exchange rates and money supply.

One issue, in particular, has been irking central banks for ages. There is an unsaid truth that leaving control of monetary policies isn’t a valid option.

Intending to defend their turf alongside preventing tremendous decoupling, central banks have come up with a way to design their very own network of digital payments.

They do so by officially issuing a CBDC or Central Bank Digital Currency. A general-purpose CBDC is valued as it’s also of a legal tender nature. The payment market might see some innovation and diversity thanks to this.

Designed to maintain safety at all times, these would be a type of universal system allowing you to freely convert into cash at a fixed rate, with a pre-defined policy set out.

Simultaneously, it has to be termed in the local currency, bearing interests on central banks' balance sheets. 

Purpose Behind Starting CBDCs

Although in plans for some time now, a complete operation CBDC is yet to be implemented anywhere, somehow due to technological shortcomings.

Thus, given the shortage of empirical data, estimating the actual cost a transition would bring is rather difficult. Calculating the efficacy of financial or monetary policies under those conditions is one more challenge added to the list.

Given all these identified issues, the reviews of CBDC thus far have been mixed. However, it is thought that 4/5 of all central banks are investing in research options to create functioning CBDCs.

The Bank for International Settlements published a report where it was claimed that central bankers across the globe are becoming more optimistic about the future effects of CBDCs.

In all honesty, if private digital currencies dominate the ecosystem, they would probably wipe out legal tender cash.

After all, competition from Google and Tencent in the digital space is extremely intense.

Once large enough, unethical firms can utilize their market influence to take out the competition and ultimately extract more profit. Usually, this is considered to be against consumer interest.

Governments and central banks have been keeping a close eye on such developments. This is where we start to under why the CBDC is so desirable from a government’s point of view.

But central banks need to ensure network integrity as their first goal, aside from preventing failures and crashes. Otherwise, they won’t be able to gain public interest.

Countries like the Netherlands and China have already begun experimenting on a small scale. It can be said that Sweden will be another addition to the list with its e-krona.

The burning question amidst the cloud of possibilities and danger is: Do CBDCs add meaningful value to the economy?


Opportunities and Risks

Central banks could try targeting monetary stimulus more particular beneficiaries, and assistance can be provided to detected vulnerable sections during economic stress.

Earmarking account top-ups can be done, too, for specific purposes. But including all these features might bring complications.

It can hurt the ease of access. Plus, central banks holding such extensive powers may spark controversy among the public, especially if they are under an authoritarian government that can use it to store data of their transactions to exercise unfair control over the citizens.

Another fear is that if the general mass can convert deposits into CBDC accounts, this might drain out the primary funding source for commercial banks.

Shortage of demand deposits means an exaggerated reliance on pricier alternatives, for example, wholesale funding.

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The Truth About CDBC's

Albeit filled with potential, the broader cyberspace is notorious for security threats, the obvious lack of transparency, and the power entities hold to conduct malevolent activities.

Besides, technology failures are an everyday thing, especially with the government.

Taking a moment to look away from the negatives, digital fiat proposes a brand new efficient world filled with welfare-enhancing ideas.

Like any other creative concept, CBDCs do come with designated risks. Along the way, digital cash must be carefully examined and improved.

Central banks are better off celebrating new policy flexibilities, but it’s important to maintain cautiousness at all levels.

Lastly, user preference will play a key role in deciding the overall economic effects of CBDCs.

See what the big bank representatives are saying...

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