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What is a CBDC?

Unveiling the future of money: Explore the game-changing Central Bank Digital Currencies and their potential impact on finance.

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Since the debut of Bitcoin in 2009, central banks have been living in fear of the disruptive technology that is cryptocurrency. Distributed ledger technology has revolutionized the digital world and has continued to challenge the corruption of central bank morals. 

Financial institutions can’t beat or control cryptocurrency, so they are joining them in creating digital currencies. Governments have now been embracing digital currencies in the form of CBDCs, otherwise known as central bank digital currencies. 

Central bank digital currencies are digital tokens, similar to cryptocurrency, issued by a central bank. They are pegged to the value of that country's fiat currency, acting as a digital currency version of the national currency. CBDCs are created and regulated by a country's central bank and monetary authorities.

A central bank digital currency is generally created for a sense of financial inclusion and to improve the application of monetary and fiscal policy. Central banks adopting currency in digital form presents great benefits for the federal reserve system as well as citizens, but there are some cons lurking behind the central bank digital currency facade.

Types of central bank digital currencies

While the concept of a central bank digital currency is quite easy to understand, there are layers to central bank money in its digital form. Before we take a deep dive into the possibilities presented by the central banks and their digital money, we will break down the different types of central bank digital currencies. 

Wholesale CBDCs

Wholesale central bank digital currencies are targeted at financial institutions, whereby reserve balances are held within a central bank. This integration assists the financial system and institutions in improving payment systems and security payment efficiency. 

This is much simpler than rolling out a central bank digital currency to the whole country but provides support for large businesses when they want to transfer money. These digital payments would also act as a digital ledger and aid in the avoidance of money laundering.

Retail CBDCs

A retail central bank digital currency refers to government-backed digital assets used between businesses and customers. This type of central bank digital currency is aimed at traditional currency, acting as a digital version of physical currency. These digital assets would allow retail payment systems, direct P2P CBDC transactions, as well as international settlements among businesses. It would be similar to having a bank account, where you could digitally transfer money through commercial banks, except the currency would be in the form of a digital yuan or euro, rather than the federal reserve of currency held by central banks.

Pros and cons of a central bank digital currency (CBDC)

Central banks are looking for ways to keep their money in the country, as opposed to it being spent on buying cryptocurrencies, thus losing it to a global market. As digital currencies become more popular, each central bank must decide whether they want to fight it or profit from the potential. Regardless of adoption, central banks creating their own digital currencies comes with benefits and disadvantages to users that you need to know. 

Pros of central bank digital currency (CBDC)

  • Cross border payments
  • Track money laundering activity 
  • Secure international monetary fund
  • Reduces risk of commercial bank collapse 
  • Cheaper
  • More secure
  • Promotes financial inclusion

Cons of central bank digital currency (CDBC)

  • Central banks have complete control
  • No anonymity of digital currency transfers
  • Cybersecurity issues 
  • Price reliant on fiat currency equivalent 
  • Physical money may be eliminated 
  • Ban of distributed ledger technology and cryptocurrency

Central bank digital currency conclusion

Central bank money in an electronic form has been a big debate in the blockchain technology space, with so many countries considering the possibility. The European Central Bank, as well as other central banks, have been considering the possibility of central bank digital currencies as a means of improving the financial system. The Chinese government is in the midst of testing out their e-CNY, which some are calling the digital yuan. They have seen great success so far, but only after completely banning Bitcoin trading.

There is a lot of good that can come from CBDCs, but the benefits are mostly for the federal reserve system and central banks. Bank-account holders and citizens may have their privacy compromised and their investment options limited if the world adopts CBDCs.

It's important to remember that central bank digital currencies are not cryptocurrencies. They do not compete with cryptocurrencies and the benefits of blockchain technology. Their limited use cases can only be applied when reinforced by a financial system authority. Only time will tell if CBDCs will succeed, but right now you can appreciate the advantages brought to you by crypto.


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