Central banks around the world are considering the creation of their own cryptocurrency and could have it ready for consumer use within five years, according to a new report commissioned by Armonk-based IBM.
The report, titled “Retail CBDCs, The Next Payments Frontier,” was created in collaboration with the central banking think tank OMFIF and surveyed officials from 23 central banks in advanced and emerging economies.
The policymakers at the central banks worried that unregulated private-sector digital currencies could possibly undermine their monetary sovereignty and create risks to financial stability. Seventy-three percent of the survey’s respondents said the creation of a new central bank digital currency (CBDC) as an alternative to existing cryptocurrencies could be available for consumers on all types of payments where cash is currently used.
However, 82% of the survey’s respondents said their greatest financial stability concern from CBDC implementation was the risk of digital bank “runs” that could wreck consumer confidence in this new currency source. And the central bank officials admitted they would need to work with the private sector on implementation and maintenance, with 64% of respondents predicting outsourceable intermediation functions, such as customer onboarding, would be important in this type of endeavor.
“Central banks surveyed are interested in positioning themselves to launch their own retail CBDCs, as the findings of this report make clear,” said Saket Sinha, global vice president, IBM Blockchain Financial Services. “Large banks and technology companies will have a major role to play as new public private partnerships are formed to promote interoperability, create services, and extend financial inclusion.”
No central bank currently recognizes or regulates cryptocurrencies. In July, Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell told a congressional hearing that he was apprehensive over the potential introduction of Libra, a cryptocurrency proposed by the social media giant Facebook.
“Libra raises many serious concerns regarding privacy, money laundering, consumer protection and financial stability,” Powell said, adding that while Libra “does have potentially systemic scale, it needs a careful look. “So, I strongly believe we all need to be taking our time with this.”