The Bank for International Settlements (BIS) notes that more than 90 percent of central banks around the world are already examining whether to introduce central bank digital currencies (CBDCs). Although more than 70 percent of citizens in this country still pay in cash and the majority of Germans reject a digital euro, the European Central Bank’s (ECB) plans are already well advanced.
Central bank digital currencies have been around for over 50 years
CBDC (Central Bank Digital Currency) is digital money issued by central or central banks. The spread of electronic money (digital bank money) began in the 1970s and has since forced the decoupling of material values and real cash. Today, every euro deposited in a bank account only exists in electronic or digital format.
In recent decades, the money supply has become increasingly decoupled from real gross domestic product (real GDP). Digital money is simply easier to create. Mephistopheles in Goethe’s Faust would rejoice: “There is no money. Well then do it!”
In this sense, the CBDC is not the extraordinary monetary revolution that monetary politicians like to describe. You can now transfer electronic credit from one account or wallet to another within a bank or payment service provider in a matter of seconds.
An online transfer to an account at another credit institution can take a maximum of one business day, and paper transfers a maximum of two days. This applies to all payments in euros throughout the SEPA area.
Digital payment options are becoming more diverse
Anyone can do it from their smartphone or through online payment providers such as: B. PayPal, create an electronic wallet that is stored with accounts or credit or debit cards or cryptocurrencies. This wallet can be used for online and offline purchases or transactions to third parties. Even through the monthly phone bill, many providers offer purchases in seconds from third-party providers, such as app stores, delivery services, taxi services, purchases of goods, ordering tickets, and even payments at snack vending machines.
If you want to carry out your transactions a little more discreetly, quickly and directly from wallet to wallet, there are currently more than 7,000 digital currencies (tokens) officially available for this purpose. The pioneer Bitcoin (BTC) remains the most popular here. In addition to Bitcoin, there are also stablecoins that are directly pegged to currencies, e.g. B. are backed by US dollars, but function as a digital currency.
Digital payment systems are becoming simpler and cryptocurrencies are becoming more interesting. And in the midst of this monetary revolution, states and associations of states are introducing their own electronic currencies.
But why do central and central banks want to introduce central bank digital currencies (CBDCs) in addition to their existing digital bank money (euro, US dollar, yen, pound, franc, etc.) at any cost? Who has registered a need here and who needs this CBDC?
Below is an overview of the advantages and disadvantages of the different forms of electronic payment (not exhaustive, very simplified):
No real added value for citizens and the economy can be determined from this superficial comparison. So it seems that central banks are simply pursuing a development over which they are in danger of losing control: purely private digital currencies, especially decentralized Bitcoin.
But here it must be made clear that a CBDC has no advantages compared to Bitcoin. In contrast, Bitcoin’s primary intention of limiting money creation and thus ensuring long-term value stability is not the case for central bank digital currencies.
Central and central banks, such as the ECB, can create as much digital central bank money as they have already done in the recent past and, in the case of Japan (Bank of Japan), are still doing so.
Bundesdruckerei sees banking sector at risk and warns against surveillance
The head of value printing at Bundesdruckerei GmbH, Dr. Dieter Sauter sees several risks for consumers and for the banking system as a whole:
“Under no circumstances may digital identities be used to control transactions and link them to specific people.”
Even if the ECB denies it at the moment, experience with the ECB’s promises shows that they are not worth the cotton on which the common currency is printed. And what happens if there is political change and dictatorial conditions in Europe? Who then wants to enforce the ECB’s promises? The rule of law that no longer exists or that can only act in a limited way? And what happens if one day the ECB and its currency cease to exist (nothing created by man exists forever)?
Since pe B. There is no institution like the ECB behind Bitcoin, this specific question does not arise here.
The Dr. sees another important risk. Sauter in cybersecurity. Bank accounts are relatively well protected against theft. At least better than private wallets. In 2022 alone, almost $800 billion worth of cryptocurrencies were stolen (source: TRMLabs), mostly by professional North Korean hackers. How does the ECB plan to mitigate this risk? In terms of technology, monetary authorities are still lagging behind.
Sauter generally warns against an excessive presence of central bank digital money in an economy. For example, he suggests limiting CBDC transactions to a maximum amount. Finally, the supposed stability of central banks could give some people the idea of converting the money in their bank accounts into CBDC (digital bank run). This, in turn, would be dangerous for commercial banks. The latent fear of its possible bankruptcy would then encourage a real bankruptcy.
If the ECB itself were to enter the banking services business, as some monetary politicians are already calling for to “stabilize the system” and offer accounts that include the banking services themselves, the entire banking and savings bank system would quickly be at risk. and the ECB would end up being a monopolist who, according to its own interests, decisions on the granting and availability of credit are made at will. It’s not a pleasant idea.
The increasing digitization of payment processing is forcing central banks to keep up with technology. Therefore, CBDCs will soon be part of our daily lives. At the same time, there is a risk that payment flows become controllable and completely transparent. As a responsible citizen, you must be aware of the possibilities, but also the consequences, of the introduction of central bank digital money.
In reality, it would be a task for schools to teach children how to manage their personal data and virtual money in a timely manner, so that young adults do not start their careers hopelessly over-indebted and their spending behavior is completely transparent and therefore , controllable.
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