The topic of central bank digital currencies or CBDCs has been in discussion by regulators for a long time with many nations developing their own versions of it. Whatever remaining qualms the rest of the banking industry may have had about CBDCs seems to have changed after the latest approval by the Bank of International Settlements [BIS]. The document was the clearest signal yet from central banks that they are ready to fight any effort to undermine their key role in the global financial system.
Considered the central bank to all other banks, the BIS stated that if CBDC technology was not adopted by the banking world it would be left in the lurch by alternatives. The CBDC mentioned its latest directive in a list of recommendations released on June 23. According to the BIS, if banks remained stoic on their stance on the nascent technology, it would be overtaken by the Big Tech such as Amazon, Facebook, and Alphabet.
The release also included comments from BIS official Benoit Coeure who said:
“The train has left the station. It is not that we are getting carried away, we are just looking around. That [Big Tech overtake] is a place where you don’t want to be, where governments don’t want to be. The new trade wards are technology wars.”
Significance of BIS’s stance on CBDC
Coeure and the BIS’s statement comes at a time when global superpowers like China have CBDCs in the works. Although the digital renminbi had received a lot of traction during the initial announcement, it has since then dipped in terms of developmental progress. This lethargy shown by states is not something that would be seen by the mammoth technology giants swarming for dominance, said Coeure.
Coeure was not the only BIS official as he was also joined by his colleague Hyun Song Shin. Shin added that the onus was now on the authorities to decide whether citizens need digital IDs to use CBDCs. The other alternative would be a token-based cryptocurrency system that would keep transactions private. Both Coeure and Shin agreed that the BIS’s best pick out of the two would be going with the ID system.
Last year, the Bahamas became the first nation to launch a native CBDC, dubbed the Sand Dollar. Aside from China, other European nations such as France and Switzerland were also trying their hands at creating general purpose CBDCs.