Digital currencies and the future of the monetary system

Remarks by Mr Agustín Carstens, General Manager of the BIS, at the Hoover Institution policy seminar, Basel, 27 January 2021.

BIS speech  | 
27 January 2021

A technological revolution is changing our economy and even money itself. In addition to improvements to existing payment systems, new digital currencies have been unleashed. Yet societies face two forks in the road in designing digital money. First, should digital currencies rely on a central authority or a decentralised governance system? Second, should access be based on verification of identity, or purely on cryptography? The answer is that if digital currencies are needed, central banks should be the issuers and they should grant access based on identification. Central bank digital currencies (CBDCs) can combine novel digital technologies with the tried and trusted foundation of central banks. Developing CBDCs comes with a host of technological, legal and economic issues that warrant careful examination before issuance. Central banks – the guardians of stability – will proceed carefully, methodically and in line with their mandates. The BIS is supporting this international discussion, ensuring that central banks can continue learning from one another and can cooperate on key design issues.