Michelle W Bowman: Considerations for a Central Bank Digital Currency

Speech by Ms Michelle W Bowman, Member of the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System, at the Georgetown University McDonough School of Business Psaros Center for Financial Markets and Policy, Washington DC, 18 April 2023. 

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

Central bank speech  | 
19 April 2023

It is a pleasure to be with you today to discuss the evolving money and payments landscape in the United States, which is a topic of primary importance to the Federal Reserve. Technological innovation has changed this landscape in recent years, as we have seen the emergence of new financial services entrants offering payments services, new platforms designed to increase the speed of payments, clearing, and settlement, and new forms of digital money. Over the past several years, and as a direct result of these developments, we have seen a significant increase in attention on central bank digital currencies (CBDCs) from central banks around the world in addition to a great deal of international and domestic engagement on CBDC. A number of central banks have taken steps to begin exploring the potential uses of a CBDC in their home countries. A very small number have adopted a CBDC for their local jurisdictions. And of course, discussions of the purpose, design, and potential risks of a U.S. CBDC, and technical research about key design elements, continue here in the United States. While the Federal Reserve plays an important role in these ongoing discussions and technical research, the Fed would not implement a U.S. CBDC without the approval of Congress.

In broad terms, a CBDC is simply a new form of digital liability of a central bank. Because it is issued by a central bank, CBDC is typically thought of as being denominated in the currency of that central bank. One could imagine a digital U.S. dollar, a digital euro, or a digital pound. Beyond this baseline definition though, "what is a CBDC" defies a simple definition. A CBDC built on distributed ledger technology offers a wide range of design and potential use options, as well as potential risks. This variability complicates any discussion of a CBDC simply because we may not be talking about the same thing.