WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Several pilot programs for digital dollars are set to begin in the United States over the next 12 months.
A total of five such projects will be launched during the period to investigate the potential benefits of a central bank digital currency (CBDC), the private sector initiative, the Digital Dollar Project, announced Monday. This is a partnership between management consulting firm Accenture and the Digital Dollar Foundation, a nonprofit. The initiative was launched last year to support the search for a digital currency in the United States of America.
There are CBDC conferences around the world and new articles pop up every week based on data from other countries, said Christopher Giancarlo, co-founder of Digital Dollar. “There is no real data and tests from the United States to fuel the debate,” he said. This data should now be generated.
Central banks around the world are currently exploring the possibility of introducing digital versions of their currencies. Because the digitization of payment transactions is progressing and the use of cash is declining in many countries. Therefore, central banks are under pressure not to lose touch with technological developments and perhaps the currency supremacy of large technology groups. Like banknotes and coins, the central bank’s digital currency should also be easy-to-use legal tender, only in digital form.
In the US, the central bank has been somewhat cautious about this. The Federal Reserve is currently working with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) based in Cambridge near Boston on technology for a potential e-dollar. Fed Chairman Jerome Powell said last week that it is more important to get the matter right than to speed up.
According to Giancarlo, Powell is right to warn him. But as China is leading the way in central bank digital currencies, the United States must ensure in the debate that values such as privacy, free trade and freedom of expression are taken into account in development. Three of the pilot programs are due to start in the next two months. Its purpose is to complement the MIT project of the Federal Reserve and provide data, among other things, on the work and use of the digital dollar. It should also be published quickly.
Accenture has worked on a number of CBDC projects, including in Canada, Singapore and France. In the Eurozone, the European Central Bank wants to decide around the middle of the year whether it wants to give the green light to the e-euro project.