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How Central Banks Think About Digital Currency

Central bank digital currencies are on the horizon. What do 65 central banks representing 91% of global GDP think about them?
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How Central Banks think about Digital Currency

How Central Banks Think About Digital Currency

In the late 1600s, the introduction of bank notes changed the financial system forever. Fast forward to today, and another monumental change is expected to occur through central bank digital currencies (CBDC).

A CBDC adopts certain characteristics of everyday paper or coin currencies and cryptocurrency. It is expected to provide central banks and the monetary systems they govern a step towards modernizing.

But what exactly are CBDCs and how do they differ from money we use today?

The ABCs of CBDCs

To better understand a CBDC, it helps to first understand the taxonomy of money and its overlapping properties.

For example, the properties of cash are that it’s accessible, physical and digital, central bank issued, and token-based. Here’s how the taxonomy of money breaks down:

  • Accessibility: The accessibility of money is a big factor in determining its place within the taxonomy of money. For instance, cash and general purpose CBDCs are considered widely accessible.
  • Form: Is the money physical or digital? The form of money determines distribution and the potential for dilution, and future CBDCs issued will be completely digital.
  • Issuer: Where does the money come from? CBDCs are to be issued by the central bank and backed by their respective governments, which differs from cryptocurrencies which mostly have no government affiliations.
  • Technology: How does the currency work? CBDCs break down into token-based and account-based approaches. A token-based CBDC operates like banknotes today, where your information is not known nor needed by a cashier when accepting your payment. An account-based system, however, requires authorization to partake on the network, akin to paying with a digital wallet or card.

Digital Currency vs Digital Coins

In essence, digital currency is the electronic form of banknotes that exists today. Therefore, it’s viewed by some as a modern and efficient version of the cash you hold in your wallet or purse.

On the other hand, cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin are a store of value like gold that is secured by encryption. Cryptocurrencies are privately owned and fueled by blockchain technology, compared to digital currencies which do not use decentralized ledgers or blockchain technology.

Digital Currency: Regulatory Authority and Stability

Digital currencies are issued by a central bank, and therefore, are backed by the full power of a government. According to the Bank for International Settlements, over 20% of central banks surveyed say they have legal authority in issuing a CBDC. Almost 10% more said laws are currently being changed to allow for it.

As more central banks issue digital currencies, there’s likely to be favorability between them. This is similar to how a few currencies like the U.S. dollar and Euro dominate the currency landscape.

The Benefits of Issuing a CBDC

There are several positives regarding the issuance of a CBDC over other currencies.

First, the cost of retail payments in the U.S. is estimated to be between 0.5% and 0.9% of the country’s $20 trillion in GDP. Digital currencies can flow much more effectively between parties, helping reduce these transaction fees.

Second, large chunks of the global population are still considered unbanked. In this case, a CBDC opens avenues for people to access the global financial system without a bank. Even today, 6% of Americans do not have a single bank account.

Other motivations for a CBDC include:

  • Financial stability
  • Monetary policy implementation
  • Increased safety, efficiency, and robustness
  • Limit on illicit activity

An example of payments efficiency can be seen during the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, when some Americans failed to receive their stimulus check. Altogether, some $2 billion in funds have gone unclaimed. A functioning rollout of a CBDC and a more direct relationship with citizens would minimize such a problem.

Status of CBDCs

Although widespread adoption of CBDCs is still far away, research and experiments are making notable strides forward:

  • 81 countries representing 90% of global GDP are exploring CBDCs.
  • The share of central banks actively engaging in CBDC work grew to 86% in the last 4 years.
  • 60% of central banks are conducting experiments on CBDCs (up from 42% in 2019) and 14% are moving forward to development and pilot arrangement.
  • The Bahamas is one of five countries currently working with a CBDC – the Bahamian Sand Dollar.
  • Sweden and Uruguay have shown interest in a digital currency. Sweden began testing an “e-krona” in 2020, and Uruguay announced tests to issue digital Uruguayan pesos as far back as 2017.
  • The People’s Bank of China has been running CBDC tests since April 2020. In all, tens of thousands of citizens have participated, spending 2 billion yuan, and the country is poised to be the first to fully launch a CBDC.

The U.K. central bank is less optimistic about a rolling out a CBDC in the near future. The proposed digital currency—dubbed “Britcoin”—is unlikely to arrive until at least 2025.

Disrupting The World of Money

Wherever you look, technology is disrupting finance and upending the status quo.

This can be seen through the rising market value of fintech firms, which in some cases are trumping traditional financial institutions in value. It is also evident in the rapid rise of Bitcoin to a $1 trillion market cap, making it the fastest asset to do so.

With the rollout of central bank digital currencies on the horizon, the next disruption of financial systems is already beginning.

The post How Central Banks Think About Digital Currency appeared first on Visual Capitalist.







Author: Aran Ali

Economics

Why Bitcoin Crashed This Weekend, and What Crypto Investors Should Do Next

It’s been a rough few days for cryptocurrency investors.

The cryptocurrency market had a rough weekend.

Bitcoin’s price plummeted more than 20% at one point on Saturday, then recouped some of its losses during what turned into a rollercoaster of a few days. As of Monday at midday, the price sat at about $49,000 per coin, far below the $68,000 per coin we saw just last month.

The prices of other cryptos, like Ethereum, Cardano and Dogecoin, also fell.

The stock market experienced a sell off last week after comments from the Federal Reserve that indicated it may end support for the economy sooner than many hoped, and growing concerns about the Omicron variant of COVID-19.

Why is the crypto market falling?

Last week, Fed Chair Jerome Powell signaled during the Senate Banking Committee that the central bank could pull its economic support more quickly as inflation concerns run high. This, on top of fear of the new Omicron variant of the coronavirus, had investors concerned.

The crypto market stayed relatively stable throughout most of the week despite stock prices falling, but apparently many investors in Bitcoin and other cryptos felt worried enough over the weekend to sell.

“The market isn’t mature enough yet to survive major selling so you will continue to see flash crashes,” says Matthew Tuttle, chief executive at Tuttle Capital Management.

Bitcoin advocates tend to argue that the digital asset is not closely correlated to other assets, like stocks, and so it can therefore act as a safe haven during market sell offs. But the recent plummet shows that may not be the case.

“When investors are scared, speculative risk assets can be the first markets to be hit hard,” says Giles Coghlan, chief analyst at HYCM.

Cryptocurrency is certainly a speculative market.

What should Bitcoin investors do?

The crypto market is no stranger to volatility. Bitcoin hit a high just below $65,000 per coin in mid-April before plunging over 50% by July due to several factors including news from Tesla and the Chinese government. By October, the price was back to a new high over $66,000.

If you think you can stomach the volatility and want to invest a small amount in Bitcoin, make sure you are going to hold onto it for a longer period of time, and not want to sell when the price drops and you get worried, Anjali Jariwala, certified financial advisor and founder of FIT Advisors, previously told Money.

“You have to be comfortable with having that money potentially go away,” she added.

Crypto will continue to be volatile, Tuttle says. So if you’re planning to buy in, now’s not the time.

“Wait until the trend shows signs of moving up,” Tuttle says.

But if you do decide to buy in, keep in mind that financial advisors recommend only investing a small amount of your portfolio in risky investments like crypto — 5% of your overall portfolio at most.

More from Money:

Does ‘Buy the Dip’ Actually Work? What Experts Think of the Internet’s Favorite Investing Strategy

A Crypto Expert Explains the Bizarre 1,000% Rise of the Omicron Token

What Is Cryptocurrency?





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Economics

Back into positive territory

Stock markets are off to a positive start to the week in Europe and the US, in keeping with the price action we’ve seen over the last week since the…

Stock markets are off to a positive start to the week in Europe and the US, in keeping with the price action we’ve seen over the last week since the new variant discovery.

Reports of the Omicron symptoms being less severe are boosting risk appetite but it’s too soon to get carried away. For one, we’ve seen this repeatedly since the initial news broke a little over a week ago. Markets have been very headline-driven and this is just the latest rally on the back of some positive reports.

While this may be the first in a slew of positive data around the new variant, it could also be the anomaly and what follows could explain why world leaders and various agencies have been so anxious. Let’s hope for the former but I expect extreme caution to remain until the data gives us cause for more optimism.

Weeks like this, the economic data would always play second fiddle but as it turns out, it’s looking a little thin on that front and central banks are in the same position as the rest of us. So the rest of the week will remain very Omicron headline-driven which will likely mean plenty more volatility.

By then, we may know a lot more which means the conversation can move on to the monetary response. Unfortunately, that comes too late for the RBA and BoC tomorrow and Wednesday, respectively, and perhaps just in time for the Fed, ECB, and BoE next week. If the news isn’t good on the variant then central banks are going to find themselves in an awful position, which could rock the boat somewhat.

Bitcoin partly recovers after crash

Bitcoin has had an eventful few days, having been pummelled on Saturday before recouping much of those losses. Whatever the cause of the flash crash, it hasn’t managed to fully reverse the losses and remains below USD 50,000. That could leave it vulnerable in the near term, especially with it struggling to track other risk instruments higher on the day. Bad news on Omicron could really put it under pressure.

For a look at all of today’s economic events, check out our economic calendar: www.marketpulse.com/economic-events/




Author: Craig Erlam

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Economics

Business As Usual Despite Omicron

Investors hoping that Friday’s release of the November…

“Business As Usual” Despite Omicron?

By Jane Foley, head of FX strategy at Rabobank

Investors hoping that Friday’s release of the November US labor market would be a simple tick-box exercise for the Fed’s move towards policy normalisation were likely disappointed.  The headline non-farm payrolls report at 210K was only about half what the market had expected it to be, though the shock of this number was lessened by talk of a potentially unreliable seasonal adjustment in addition to a strong set of data from the household survey.  The latter showed a sharp drop in the unemployment rate to just 4.2% in November.  For many this will have been sufficient for the Fed to continue preparing to announce a hastening in the pace of tapering of its bond buying program at the December 14/15 FOMC meeting.  After a volatile fortnight on the back of fears of a more hawkish Fed, the Nasdaq closed down 1.92% on Friday.  While Asian stocks this morning mostly followed US stocks lower, futures are showing signs of resilience. 

Despite the confusion surrounding the economic implications from the Omicron variant, Fed Chair Powell and other FOMC members had suggested a ‘business as usual’ approach to policy last week by suggesting that a hastening in the pace of QE tapering very much remained on the cards.  The fact that the market consensus for this week’s US November CPI inflation release stands at a eye-watering 6.7% y/y will be seen by some as an endorsement of the Fed’s hawkish tone. 

That said, the IMF has warned of growth risks stemming from Omicron and other central banks seem prepared to take a more cautious approach.  The BoE’s Chief hawk Saunders, who voted for a rate hike in November, suggested on Friday that he would like more information on Omicron before deciding how to vote on policy next week.  The UK money market has backed away from fully pricing in a BoE rate hike for December, though a February move is still on the cards.  Both the BoC and the RBA are due to meet this week and steady policy is expected from both.  Omicron is likely to provide the RBA with further reason to extend its already dovish position.  That said, the strong rise in Canadian employment in November is feeding speculation that the BoC could bring forward rate hikes, with April being touted by commentators as a possible start date for policy tightening. 

There have been various headlines in recent days in a slew of countries about additional restrictions being put in place in an effort to slow the transmission of Covid.  Over the weekend police in Belgian used water cannon and tear-gas to disperse violent protests against fresh restrictions.  Germany last week announced social curbs on the unvaccinated while Greece introduced fines on the over-60s who refuse to be jabbed.

As evidenced by the protests, none of this sits comfortably in liberal democracies with some premiers, such as UK PM Johnson, likely very nervous of a backlash from any further fresh restriction.  Omicron has now been detected in seventeen EU countries and US data suggest that Omicron has spread to around one–third of US states, though Delta remains the dominant variant.  Encouraging there have been several press reports indicating that while Omicron may increase the risk of transmission, the symptoms may be milder.  This view was endorsed by US infectious disease official Fauci over the weekend who commented that “thus far it does not look like there’s a great degree of severity to it.”  That said, S. Africa is preparing its hospitals for more admission, though its low vaccine rollout rate will be a factor.

Bitcoin took a tumble over the weekend as profit-taking picked up momentum.  Gold found support on the fall back in longer term bond yields and oil prices picked up some support after Saudi Arabia raised prices for crude sold to Asia and the US.  No real progress appears to have been made on reviving the nuclear deal between the US and Iran.

Week ahead

President’s Biden and Putin will speak via video call on Tuesday amid mounting tensions over Ukraine.  This follows reports from US Secretary of State that there was evidence that Russia had made plans for a ‘large scale’ attack on Ukraine.  It is expected the Biden will reaffirm US support for the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine. Bloomberg news have reported that over the weekend there was a ‘testy exchange’ between US Secretary of State Blinken and Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov over Ukraine with the former recapping events in 2014 when more than 100 people participating in a peaceful protests were killed.

Evergrande is back in the headlines this morning following a statement from the Chinese property developers on Friday saying that creditors had demanded USD260 million and that it could not guarantee enough funds.  Chinese government officials summoned Evergrande’s Chair and the PBoC has stepped up its criticism of the company accusing it of ‘poor management’ and pursing ‘blind expansion’.  Reports in Chinese state media that Beijing will cut banks’ reserve requirement ratio ‘in a timely way’ lent a little support to mainland Chinese blue chips overnight

A decidedly weak -6.9% m/m print for October Germany factory orders this morning is a sharp reminder of the headwinds facing the Eurozone’s largest economy.  Tomorrow, German ZEW survey data is also expected to soften.  Key UK data this week includes monthly GDP data and production numbers for October.  In addition to the November CPI inflation data, the US calendar also includes the December Michigan confidence survey.  Ahead of next weeks Fed, ECB, BoE and BoJ policy meetings little additional direction can be expected from central bankers leaving more room for investors to seek clues from this week’s BoC and RBA policy meetings. 

Tyler Durden Mon, 12/06/2021 – 09:30

Author: Tyler Durden

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