Agustín Carstens, the Bank for International Settlements (BIS) General Manager, called central banks to lead the digital revolution. During a conference in Basel, Carstens spotlighted central bank digital currencies (CBDCs) as the linchpin of innovation within the financial sector. His remarks underscore the urgency for central banks to adapt and stay abreast of rapid technological advancements.
Navigating the CBDC Landscape
Carstens highlighted the diverse technological frameworks nations are considering for their CBDC initiatives. This variety presents a challenge, as does the ever-present threat of cyber risks and the potential for criminal misuse. Furthermore, he pinpointed the design flexibility of CBDCs as a paramount concern, especially regarding the public’s acceptance of these digital assets.
Moreover, privacy stands as another critical factor. “Maintaining an appropriate level of privacy will be crucial to ensuring public acceptance of retail CBDCs,” Carstens asserted. Hence, the BIS is pledging unwavering support to central banks on their digital journey, primarily via the BIS Innovation Hub and the Cyber Resilience Coordination Centre.
The Innovation Hub has been particularly active, collaborating on several prominent digital currency projects. It’s contributing to developing a wholesale CBDC with the Swiss National Bank and crafting a joint platform with monetary authorities from China, Hong Kong, Thailand, and the United Arab Emirates. Additionally, the Hub is developing a proof-of-concept for a transaction tracker with the European Central Bank among its many initiatives.
Carstens’ message is clear: for the financial ecosystem to thrive, central banks must not only participate in the digital age but also drive innovation. The financial world watches keenly as the BIS marshals support for these institutions. Today’s steps will pave the way for tomorrow’s secure and efficient digital financial landscape.
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