Central Bank Digital Currencies Likely to Disrupt Financial Systems

The declining use of cash and associated rise of digital payment systems, while providing convenience through improved mechanisms that reduce cost and improve speed and resiliency, have helped create oligopolies of private-sector payment-system providers. While this is ‘life as we know it’ at the moment, the introduction of central bank digital currencies (CBDCs) could significantly disrupt this. In particular, CBDCs are likely erode the control these providers have over payment-related data as well as improve central banks’ capacity to track financial transaction data, deliver needed aid in crises and influence social behavior.  While such features are attractive from the point of view of regulators, they make CBDCs less attractive to many potential users relative to cash. As such, regulators must be cautious in moving forward if CBDCs are to be widely adopted.