September 18, 2023
This post summarizes key takeaways from a September roundtable on digital currencies.
- Sarah Hammer, Executive Director at the Wharton School and Adjunct Professor at the University of Pennsylvania Law School
- Sopnendu Mohanty, Chief Fintech Officer, Monetary Authority of Singapore
- Tara Rice, Head of Secretariat, Committee on Payments and Market Infrastructures, BIS
- Piero Cipollone, Executive Board of the European Central Bank; Former Deputy Governor of the Bank of Italy
- Fabio Araujo, Economist, Central Bank of Brazil
- Brijesh Baisakhiyar, Economist, Reserve Bank of India
- Arushi Goel, Specialist, Head of Data Policy and Blockchain, World Economic Forum
In September 2023, the Wharton School convened a roundtable gathering on central bank digital currencies (CBDCs), bringing together global central bankers to discuss digital currency and its interoperability, including with other digital assets such as stablecoins. This discourse strategically addressed pivotal concerns, including complex legal implications and the evolving technological landscape integral to fostering interoperability. By delving into both legal frameworks and technological advancements, we were able to identify crucial challenges and opportunities, paving the way for a comprehensive understanding of these issues. This inaugural roundtable marks the beginning of a series of planned gatherings at Wharton, aiming to continually cultivate insightful dialogues and drive innovative solutions in the ever-evolving landscape of digital currencies, digital assets, and interoperability.
Utility of CBDC
CBDCs are increasingly recognized for their potential in revolutionizing cross-border payments. They offer a way to make these transactions not only quicker but also more secure and resilient. The challenge in implementing CBDCs on an international scale primarily stems from the intricate legal and regulatory frameworks that govern financial transactions across Technical capabilities exist, but the real hurdle lies in navigating these legal complexities. While stablecoins have emerged as a potential alternative, even the term “stablecoin” lacks standardization. Stablecoin products have wide variations in how they deal with crucial areas such as governance, money settlement, and risk management. Depending on the design, CBDCs may align more closely with certain regulatory principles. Both stablecoins and CBDCs promise greater transparency and automation in the cross-border payment process, but the actual success of each payment type will depend on the design choices such as interoperability, privacy, and control.
Commonality Across Jurisdictions
The quest to improve cross-border payment systems involves exploring how domestic networks of different countries can interconnect and Success in this domain can significantly enhance the speed, cost-efficiency, and security of international financial transactions. However, countries vary in their objectives and challenges regarding cross-border payments. While there’s a general trend towards improved dialogue and collaboration between technology experts and policy makers, disparities remain. Advanced economies often prioritize the security of payments, whereas emerging markets are more concerned with financial security and stability. These differing priorities underscore the need for a tailored approach in addressing cross-border payment challenges.
When considering multi-CBDC platforms and multi-currency trading systems, the reconciliation of diverse governmental regulations becomes paramount. These platforms must account for differences in settlement finality across jurisdictions. Furthermore, managing the multi-party structure of cross-border payments involves balancing jurisdictional independence with effective international cooperation. Another aspect of concern is the governance and regulatory implications when digital assets are transferred over shared international networks, raising questions about jurisdictional authority and control.
Financial Inclusion and Interoperability
One of the most promising aspects of CBDCs is their potential to democratize access to financial services. For many financially underserved individuals, who may only have basic savings accounts, CBDCs offer an accessible and straightforward way to engage with a broader range of financial services. The convenience and interoperability of these digital currencies can significantly enhance financial inclusion, allowing more people to participate in the financial system beyond traditional banking services. This shift could lead to a more inclusive financial ecosystem where various assets and services are accessible to a larger segment of the
The regulation of crypto-assets on a global scale faces numerous obstacles. These include varying levels of market maturity among different countries, divergent regulatory priorities, and differences in enforcement capabilities. These disparities can lead to increased arbitrage opportunities, especially when jurisdictions with stringent regulations interact with those having looser controls. The regulatory landscape is evolving, with trends leaning towards token and activity-based regulations, encompassing aspects like licensing, anti-money laundering protocols, consumer protection, and self-regulation. However, the challenge remains in harmonizing these regulations across different jurisdictions to ensure a cohesive and effective global regulatory framework.
To address these challenges, it is recommended that international organizations work towards enhancing regulatory understanding and standardization across countries. This could involve setting baseline standards for regulation and promoting data sharing. National regulators are advised to foster coordination across different sectors, develop adaptable regulatory frameworks, and utilize technology to balance compliance with innovation. For the industry, collaboration on technological standards and best practices is crucial. Establishing partnerships with regulatory bodies can also facilitate responsible innovation and ensure that emerging risks are adequately managed. This collaborative approach is essential for navigating the complex landscape of CBDCs and crypto-asset regulation in the global financial system.