The Fed is exploring CDBCs and blockchain tech

The Federal Reserve Board is actively exploring the development of a central bank digital currency (CBDC) and related technologies. This comes according to remarks made by Vice Chair Michael Barr during the Economics of Payments XII Conference.

The Fed’s research is concentrated mainly on establishing and implementing “end-to-end system architecture.” This architecture would include elements like distributed ledgers, tokenisation, and custody models required for an intermediated CBDC. Barr noted that a digital dollar would only be pursued with a congressional mandate, but he suggested it would be important to learn from both domestic and international experimentation to guide responsible innovation in the cryptocurrency space.

CBDC exploration across the globe

Speaking at the same conference, Sir Jon Cunliffe noted that a decision had not yet been made in the United Kingdom regarding a Digital Pound. That being said, a consultation paper published in February had concluded that technological advancements and changing trends in payments made it likely that a Digital Pound would be needed by the end of the decade.

Cunliffe stated that the consultation paper had received approximately 50,000 responses, with the main concerns revolving around privacy, programmability, and the decreasing use of physical cash. He noted:

“I would observe, if only a little tongue in cheek, that criticisms of the Digital Pound have ranged… [and] at the same time, concerns that there would be no use for it and it would be a ‘solution looking for a problem.

Looking ahead, Cunliffe foresees that private companies could integrate and program the Digital Pound as a settlement asset into the services they offer to wallet holders. The Bank of England is set to release a discussion paper on stablecoin regulation in the coming months.

Echoing the sentiments of his British counterpart, Vice Chair Barr mentioned the need for stablecoin regulation. He emphasised that stablecoins leverage the trust of central banks and should be subject to regulatory oversight.

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