Lael Brainard: Cryptocurrencies, digital currencies, and distributed ledger technologies - what are we learning?

Speech by Ms Lael Brainard, Member of the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System, at the Decoding Digital Currency Conference, sponsored by the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco, San Francisco, California, 15 May 2018.

The views expressed in this speech are those of the speaker and not the view of the BIS.

Central bank speech  | 
16 May 2018
PDF full text
 |  13 pages

It is a pleasure to be here today. What better place to discuss digital currencies than in San Francisco, home to so many technology innovators working on new ways to disrupt various aspects of our daily lives?

Because of the transformative potential of digital currency and distributed ledger technologies, the Federal Reserve is actively monitoring digital innovations in the financial system. We have been keenly evaluating developments in fintech and digital currencies through a multidisciplinary lens, combining information technology and policy analysis to study their potential implications for payments policy, supervision and regulation, financial stability, monetary policy, and the provision of financial services. This work draws from expertise throughout the Federal Reserve System and benefits from engagement with our colleagues internationally.


The past decade has seen a wave of important new developments in digital technologies for payments, clearing, and settlement. Cryptocurrencies represent the leading edge of this digital wave. And it was the advent a decade ago of Bitcoin, the first cryptocurrency, that first gave shape to the vision of a decentralized digital currency.