Technology and digitalization are changing the way we pay. The COVID-19 pandemic has only accelerated the trend away from cash to digital payments. Cryptocurrencies, such as Bitcoin, are experiencing an all-time high. Central banks are taking note. On October 20, 2020, the Central Bank of The Bahamas launched the first worldwide retail central bank digital currency (CBDC), the Sand Dollar. Its purpose is to “promote more inclusive access to regulated payments and other financial services for unbanked and underbanked communities and socio-economic groups within the country.” A 2021 survey conducted among 65 central banks by the Bank for International Settlements (BIS) found that 86% of survey participants are actively researching the benefits and drawbacks of CBDCs, with 60% conducting experiments or proofs-of-concept and 14% moving forward to development and pilot projects.
The People’s Bank of China recently became the first central bank of a major economy to roll out a digital yuan. Sweden’s Riksbank announced that it will bring in commercial banks and other market participants in the next phase of its e-krona project to test how it might work practically. The British Finance Minister Rishi Sunak has floated the idea of a “Britcoin.” The United States is taking a more cautious approach. Jerome Powell, chairman of the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System, stated in a press conference following the April 28, 2021, FOMC meeting that it is “[f]ar more important to get it right than it is to do it fast or feel that we need to rush to reach conclusions because other countries are moving ahead.”
Please join us for the Law Library’s upcoming webinar Central Bank Digital Currencies – the Future of the Monetary System? at 2pm EDT on Thursday, May 27, 2021. This webinar is the latest installment in the Law Library’s series of webinars focused on foreign and comparative law. It will examine CBDCs and how they fit into the general monetary system. In particular, the webinar will discuss the definition of money, fiat currencies, digital currencies, cryptocurrencies, and their similarities and differences. Will CBDCs eventually replace cash? What effect will they have on cryptocurrencies? Specific examples from jurisdictions around the world and their progress with CBDCs, including the Bahamas, China, Sweden, the European Union, Great Britain, and the United States, will be highlighted.
The webinar will be presented by Jenny Gesley, foreign law specialist in the Global Legal Research Directorate of the Law Library of Congress. Jenny holds a Master of Laws from the University of Minnesota Law School, a Juris Doctor equivalent from the Goethe University of Frankfurt, Germany, and a doctorate in law. Her doctoral dissertation on “Financial Market Supervision in the United States: National Developments and International Standards” (in German) was awarded the Baker & McKenzie Award in 2015. Dr. Gesley is admitted to the New York State bar and is qualified to practice law in Germany.