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Fed Chair says Digital Dollar still ‘a long way off’ – What now?

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The Fed Chair’s cautious stance on CBDCs sparks intrigue amid global cryptocurrency scrutiny and regulatory shifts.

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Amidst the scrutiny of congressional testimony, Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell delivered unexpected insights into the future of Central Bank Digital Currency (CBDC). Contrary to expectations, Powell signaled a cautious stance, suggesting that a CBDC is not imminent for the United States. 

In a Congressional hearing, when asked about whether  Powell still agrees that the Federal Reserve cannot introduce a US Central Bank digital currency without Congressional authorization, he remarked,

“Yes, I do.” 

This underscored the complex considerations shaping the path toward a digital currency landscape.

What’s the ambiguity? 

The fed chair has reaffirmed that any digital version of the dollar is a long way off, and assured lawmakers that there’s no way the Fed would abide by a structure that would give the central bank visibility into what individuals are doing with their money.

“That’s the system in China”, Powell said.  

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) has previously flagged vulnerabilities in CBDCs, noting the risks to financial systems and data collection. 

“As more countries launch CBDC pilot projects, concerns about cybersecurity and privacy loom large.” 

Historically, the Federal Reserve has maintained an ambiguous stance towards cryptocurrency. 

In February, the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta cautioned banks about blockchain and crypto risks. While not outrightly opposing digital currencies, the central bank has actively shaped discussions around CBDCs. 

Notably, the publication of ‘Money and Payments: The U.S. Dollar in the Age of Digital Transformation’ also marked a pivotal moment in fostering public discourse on CBDCs. 

This highlighted that the Fed has consistently emphasized the need for legislative approval before proceeding with any CBDC initiative, underlining the importance of Congressional oversight in shaping the future of digital currency.

What lies ahead? 

As global governments monitor CBDC and cryptocurrency developments, regulatory approaches vary widely. Examples include El Salvador’s acceptance of Bitcoin and the European Union’s forthcoming cryptocurrency framework. 

This was highlighted in a report from Investopedia

“Some, like El Salvador, have adopted it as currency.” 

Thus, while Bitcoin’s decentralized nature challenges authorities, it also facilitates illicit activities, raising concerns about the disruption to financial infrastructure. Henceforth, policymakers face the task of balancing innovation with security.

 

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Ishika is a graduate of Political Science from the University of Delhi. From writing content as a hobby to now pursuing it as a professional career, she has been living and breathing content all her life. Her interests lie in making sure articles are very digestible to a common reader, despite all its technicalities and jargons.
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