The race is on: US Fed started testing CBDC

on Aug 14, 2020
  • The US Fed has finally started testing its own digital currency, the digital dollar.
  • However, the bank has not started the process that will actually see the launch of the CBDC.
  • The process would involve the government and stakeholders, and all tests are for research purposes.

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Reports of the US finally joining the CBDC race have been making headlines ever since Governor Lael Brainard said as much yesterday, August 13th. According to Brainard, the US Federal Reserve has already started conducting tests with a hypothetical CBDC, in collaboration with MIT and Boston Fed research teams.

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Governor Brainard explained that both of these institutions spent years researching the blockchain technology. Their efforts were directed towards the discovery of how the central bank can use digital coins and blockchain to launch its digital dollar.

Of course, a major part of this was deducing how a CBDC might affect the current financial system. She also added that the Fed has a vital role to play due to the dollar’s significance as a global reserve currency.

The tests are for research purposes, with no plans to launch the coin

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While China still leads the race, and is in the process of expanding the tests for its digital yuan, the Fed is currently building and testing a blockchain-based currency. However, Brainard stressed that the bank has not yet committed to actually issuing it, even if the experiments are successful.

In other words, all of the Fed’s efforts so far are only for research purposes. In order for the Fed to actually launch the coin, it would require a formal policy process. However, such a decision does not lie with the Fed itself. Instead, it would have to involve the government, as well as stakeholders.

There are plenty of legal questions that will need to be answered first, and the Fed has not even started the process yet. In fact, Brainard claims that it still doesn’t have the intention to start it.

For now, the bank is only doing research and conducting experiments, the results of which will be publicly available. The project’s lead, Boston Fed’s senior VP James Cunha, also explained that the first step is the development of the software and engine that will meet the needs of a country as large as the entire US.

Naturally, there are quite a few challenges involved, including security, privacy, and large enough transaction volumes.