Central bank digital currencies (CBDCs) are receiving more attention than ever before. But the reasons for issuing them vary between countries, as do the policy approaches and technical designs.
A new Bank for International Settlements (BIS) working paper looks at the economic and institutional motives behind current CBDC projects and asks how they might shape the design of such currencies.
BIS draw up a database of research and development work, technical approaches and policy stances for the issuance of CBDCs. BIS assess the policy stance based on a database of more than 16,000 central bank speeches.
BIS also take stock of actual development efforts, providing a taxonomy of technical designs from all relevant policy and analytical publications published by central banks worldwide. Next BIS looks at the drivers of CBDC projects by relating development intensity to the economic and institutional differences between countries.
Based on public reports and interviews with central bank experts, BIS set out the policy approaches behind three CBDC projects: China’s Digital Currency Electronic Payments (DC/EP), Sweden’s e-krona and the Bank of Canada’s CBDC contingency plan.
On the drivers for CBDC development, „we find that most projects originate in digitised and innovative economies”.
„Retail CBDC work is more advanced where the informal economy is larger. None of the projects surveyed seeks to replace cash – all aim to offer a digital complement”, BIS said.
On the technical designs, BIS find that more and more central banks are considering „Hybrid” or „Intermediated” architectures, where the CBDC is a cash-like direct claim on the central bank but the private sector manages all customer-facing activity.
Only a few jurisdictions are considering „Direct” designs, in which the central bank takes on some or all of the customer-facing side of payments. At present, no central bank reports that it is pursuing a „Synthetic” or „Indirect” CBDC design.
While central banks are considering various technical infrastructures, current proofs-of-concept tend to be based on distributed ledger technology rather than a conventional infrastructure. Access frameworks tend to be based on account identification rather than allowing for token-based anonymity. Most retail CBDC projects have a domestic focus.
„Tendinţele pe care le-am remarcat înainte de începerea pandemiei s-au accelerat pe perioada stării de urgenţă. Am văzut acest lucru ca o oportunitate, un tipping point pentru bancă. Post-pandemie nu avem cum sa ne întoarcem la comportamentul financiar pe care îl aveam până în februarie a.c. Relaţia românilor cu online-ul s-a schimbat. In plus, cardul fizic se va dematerializa. Vom asista la o scădere a cererii pentru cardurile fizice, respectiv la o creştere a preferinţei pentru componenta digitală a acestora.”