Kiffmeister’s #Fintech Daily Digest (20230112)

CBDC: Expanding financial inclusion or deepening the divide?

The MIT Digital Currency Initiative (DCI) published a paper on how a central bank digital currency (CBDC) could be designed to improve access to financial services, and whether it makes economic sense for a central bank to issue CBDC as a means of promoting inclusion and what preconditions may be necessary for success. It argues that any digital currency is only as good for inclusion as the intermediaries through which people use it. Designing a CBDC that merely replicates the features of existing digital payment systems would not make a meaningful difference for financial inclusion. More specifically, for me these are some of the key takeaways :

  • CBDC designers should consider how to preserve the benefits of self-custody (i.e., cutting out intermediaries) by considering a wider range of custody designs opened up by new possibilities with digital currency technology.
  • Making payments digitally on most incumbent platforms depends on external infrastructures and intermediaries for access, undermining their accessibility and inclusiveness, making offline capabilities a design priority.
  • Striking a balance between risks and rewards of data usage is critical. Smart decisions about privacy can yield many benefits, including building public trust and avoiding centralization of data vulnerable to attacks.

Finally, the paper underscores that the question of trust is at the core of the decisions people make about their money, and will likewise be a key factor in any successful CBDC. Especially considering the rise of authoritarian regimes, the acceleration of the surveillance state, and the increasing challenge of regulating the technology industry, it is far from self-evident that citizens should trust a CBDC. In order to be trustworthy for all, CBDC must be trustworthy to the most vulnerable. [Read the full report at the DCI]

China includes CBDC in its currency circulation report

The People’s Bank of China (PBC) reports that at end of 2022, there were 13.61 billion e-CNY ($2 billion) in circulation, representing about 0.13% of the 10.47 trillion yuan in circulation. [Read more at the PBOC]

2nd Edition of DC³ Conference – From Cryptocurrencies to Central Bank Digital Currencies (CBDCs)

The International Telecommunication Union (ITU) will hold (virtually) the second edition of its DC3 Conference – From Cryptocurrencies to Central Bank Digital Currencies (CBDCs)​ from January 24 to 27 2023. On January 27 I will be moderating two panels on offline central bank digital currency (CBDC). Also, on January 24, Jacques Francouer and I will be providing an update to our ITU Digital Currency Global Initiative digital currency ontology work. [For more event detail go to the ITU DC3 conference site]

Kiffmeister’s global central bank digital currency monthly monitor

Just a reminder that I produce a monthly digest of central bank digital currency (CBDC) developments exclusively for the official sector. So for any of you out there who work for a central bank, ministry of finance or international financial institution who would like to receive it by email on the first business day of every month, please DM me on LinkedIn or email me at chronicles@kiffmeister.com.

The Sovereign Official Digital Association (SODA) is a technology-agnostic firm offering advisory services at the intersection of central banking, digital finance and the web3 industry, aiming to make public digital money a reality. SODA believes institutions in the existing financial ecosystem should have access to the tools and resources they need to move from discussion to action. SODA offers ‘real life’ use cases to help test digital money and drive adoption as central banks and other public institutions explore the future of a more financially inclusive world powered by interoperable blockchain-based networks. SODA would love you to join us on this journey – please get in touch (chris@sodapublicmoney.org).

Satoshi Capital Advisors is a New York-based, global advisory firm that works with central banks, governments, and the private sector to architect, implement, and operate varying initiatives. Satoshi Capital Advisors’ central bank work revolves around CBDC architecture and implementation, providing advisory services from research phase through to growth phase. Utilizing a product-market fit and technology agnostic approach to CBDC architecture and implementation enables Satoshi Capital Advisors to build tailored solutions, bespoke to local financial system nuances. Satoshi Capital Advisors welcomes requests from central bank officials for virtual and in-person CBDC workshops. [Click here for more information]

WhisperCash offers the first fully offline digital currency platform that has the same properties as physical cash. It can perform secure consecutive offline payments without compromising on security, privacy or accessibility. WhisperCash allows direct person to person offline payments without any server infrastructure or internet connectivity. It comes in various form factors including the self-contained credit card-sized “Pro” that sports an eInk screen and capacitive keyboard, and lasts for two weeks between recharges assuming a few transactions per day. [Click here for more information]