Kiffmeister’s #Fintech Daily Digest (20230506)

On Tuesday (May 9, 2023) at 10am EST (3 pm UK time) I’ll be chatting (virtually) with author and commentator David Birch (15Mb Ltd) about what to expect from the introduction of new forms of money, such as central bank digital currency (CBDC) and stablecoins. Are the use cases strong enough to expect their adoption? Are we ready and eager to use and receive payments in these new forms of money? [Sign up at FNA]

Binance faces US probe of possible Russian sanctions violations

The US Department of Justice (DOJ) is reportedly investigating whether Binance was used illegally to let Russians skirt US sanctions and move money through the cryptocurrency exchange. Binance is also already being examined by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) and federal prosecutors, regarding anti-money laundering obligations compliance, and the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has been scrutinizing whether the exchange has supported the trading of unregistered securities. [Read more at Bloomberg]

Mapping the privacy landscape for central bank digital currencies

An article by Raphael Auer, Rainer Böhme, Jeremy Clark and Didem Demirag explores the multiple dimensions of retail CBDC privacy considerations. They point to the number of distinct stakeholders, combined with the technical challenges, as possibly responsible for stalling progress toward deploying retail CBDC. One step forward is understanding who the key stakeholders are and what their interests are in payment records. Knowledge of conflicting interests is helpful for developing requirements and narrowing the range of technical solutions. This article contributes to the literature by identifying three stakeholder groups – privacy enthusiasts, law enforcement, and data holders – and exploring their conflicts. A main insight is that nuanced data-access policies are best to resolve the conflicts, which in turn rule out many technical solutions that promise “hard privacy,” meaning solutions relying on cryptography and user-guarded secrets without room for human discretion. This observation shifts attention to a softer form of privacy-enhancing technologies, which gives authorized stakeholders the capability to access certain payment records in plaintext under defined circumstances. Such a system depends on compliance and accountability, supported with technically enforced access control, limited retention periods, and audits. This is referred to as “soft privacy”. [Read more at

Crypto-assets and CBDC – Potential implications for developing countries

The United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) published a paper aimed at supporting developing country policymakers in their thinking about crypto-assets. Crypto adoption has been strong in developing countries, based on its purported capacity to increase financial inclusion, reduce costs of remittances, and ease access to investment finance and export credit. However, any substitution of national sovereign currencies by crypto-assets can jeopardize financial stability and the effectiveness of monetary policy, reduce the effectiveness of capital controls, pose risks to countries’ monetary sovereignty and, through the pseudonymous character of crypto assets, facilitate illicit financial flows. Some of these challenges can be addressed by regulation, improving financial inclusion and monetary stability, CBDC, fast retail payment systems and improved auxiliary digital infrastructure. [Read more at the UNCTAD]

A simple model of a central bank digital currency

The National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) published a paper that highlights the trade-offs between physical and digital forms of retail central bank money based on a general equilibrium model. It finds that the key differences between cash and CBDC include transaction efficiency, possibilities for tax evasion, and, potentially, nominal rates of return. It establishes conditions under which cash and CBDC can co-exist and shows how government policies can influence relative holdings of cash, CBDC, and other assets. The paper illustrates how a CBDC can facilitate negative nominal interest rates and helicopter drops, and also how a CBDC can be structured to prevent capital flight from other assets. [Read more at the NBER]

Wholesale CBDC – the safe way to debt capital market efficiency

The European Stability Mechanism (ESM) published a paper that analyzes the usefulness of digital currencies for wholesale financial transactions in Europe. It identifies the risks impede broad adoption of distributed ledger technology (DLT), despite potential widespread debt capital market efficiency gains from DLT-based smart contracts. A wholesale CBDC on a private permissioned blockchain could overcome these risks and impediments and lead to significant efficiency gains in the financial system. [Read more at the ESM

Stablecoin runs and the centralization of arbitrage

A paper by Yiming Ma, Yao Zeng, and Anthony Lee Zhang analyzes the run risk of USD-backed stablecoins and uncover a dilemma between stablecoins’ price stability and financial stability. They show that panic runs exist even though general investors only trade stablecoins in secondary markets with flexible prices. Run incentives are reinstated by stablecoin issuers’ liquidity transformation and the fixed $1 at which arbitrageurs redeem stablecoins for cash in the primary market. The authors discover that more efficient arbitrage amplifies run risk. This explains why stablecoin issuers only authorize a small set of arbitragers even though it comes at the expense of maintaining a stable secondary price. In other words, the centralization of arbitrage embeds an inherent tradeoff between run risk and price stability. The paper’s findings are based on a model and a novel dataset on stablecoin redemptions, trading, and reserve assets. Calibrating the model, the authors find a higher run risk for USDT, the largest stablecoin, compared to USDC, the second-largest stablecoin. However, even USDC bears significant run risk due to its less concentrated arbitrage and more concentrated deposit holdings. [Read more here]

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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

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 (

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]