Retail CBDC the way to combat banking woes?

According to an official from the United States Treasury, any design of a central bank digital currency, or a digital dollar, should take privacy and anonymity into account.

Official Graham Steele remarked at the Transform Payments USA 2023 Conference in Texas. As the Treasury Department’s Assistant Secretary for Financial Institutions, Steele is responsible for the Treasury’s views on anything that might affect banks, access to capital, consumer protection, and financial cybersecurity. He weighed in on the creation and use of digital payments following a wide increase in those with access to and using the internet, noting:

“This digital expansion has brought about an era of incredible opportunities and novel risks in financial services, sparked by advancements in computing power and connectivity.”


US Treasury’s views on CBDCs

Steele commented that the United States is currently exploring a central bank digital currency but the government has not yet determined whether it will be pursuing one to actively implement. He continued that a digital currency in the United States must balance prioritising innovation and mitigating the risk of user protection. A retail CBDC would contribute to a more competitive payment system, increase financial inclusion opportunities, and help preserve the currency’s strength.

For a retail CBDC to fully maintain user privacy while minimizing any illicit transactions, Steele pointed out the challenge of protecting anonymity while security protocols in place. He stated:

“Privacy concerns and lack of institutional trust are already among the most cited reasons that some individuals avoid the banking system… In this vein, it is important that we consider the extent to which privacy and anonymity might be preserved and explore the technologies and methods available.”

While there are risks to iron out, Steele noted that a retail CBDC would be directly backed by the Fed and could possibly offer a safer, more secure way for customers to make payments during banking turmoil.

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