Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell has shared the progress of the Fed’s work on a central bank digital currency (CBDC), the digital dollar. “We are working proactively to evaluate whether to issue a CBDC and, if so, in what form,” he said, adding that he does not believe the U.S. has fallen behind other countries in this area.
Fed Chairman Jerome Powell on Progress of the US CBDC
The U.S. Federal Reserve has not made a decision whether to launch a digital dollar, Fed Chair Jerome Powell revealed on CNBC Wednesday.
He was asked for an update of the Fed’s work on central bank digital currency (CBDC). “We think it’s really important that the central bank maintains a stable currency and payments system for the public’s benefit. That’s one of our jobs,” Powell began. “We also live in a time of transformational innovation around digital payments and we need to make sure that the Fed is able to continue to deliver to the public a stable and trustworthy currency and payment system.”
He continued: “There’s extensive private innovation — a lot of which is taking place outside the regulatory perimeter. Innovation is fantastic. Our economy runs on innovation. But, where the public money is concerned, we need to make sure that the appropriate regulatory protections are in place, and today they really are not in some cases.” The chairman of the Federal Reserve added:
So, with that in mind, and with the creation of myriad private currencies and currency-like products, we are working proactively to evaluate whether to issue a CBDC and, if so, in what form.
Powell opined: “We do intend to publish a discussion paper soon that will be the basis for the period of public engagement, engagement with many different groups, including elected public officials around these issues. We think it’s our obligation to do the work on technology and public policies to form a basis for making an informed decision.”
He added: “The ultimate test we’ll apply when assessing a central bank digital currency and other digital innovation is whether clear tangible benefits outweigh any costs and risks.”
The Fed chair proceeded to talk about the current work at the Fed on CBDC, stating:
We really have two broad work streams, one of which is really technology, both at the Board and in the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston’s work with M.I.T. The other is to identify, scope out, deal with, analyze the various public policy issues.
“We’re also investing heavily right now in building a new settlement system for instant payment in the U.S. It will be the first such major expansion of our core payment system since the 1970s. We found the case for this quite compelling for consumers, businesses, and just ensuring that all financial institutions have access to the payment system,” he continued.
Powell concluded: “So, bottom line, we haven’t made a decision about the CBDC, but we will be issuing a discussion paper soon in order to form the basis of this public interaction that we will have.”
Currently, 81 countries are exploring issuing their own digital currencies, according to the CBDC tracker by Atlantic Council’s Geoeconomics Center. Some countries have already issued a CBDC, including China which has been heavily testing its digital yuan.
Powell was further asked whether he was “concerned at all” that the U.S. is getting behind in the area of central bank digital currencies. He replied:
I don’t think we are behind. I think it’s important to do this right than to do it fast. We’re the world’s reserve currency. I think we are in a good place to make that analysis and make that decision, which will be a government-wide decision.
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