In the fast-evolving world of digital currencies, the General Manager of the BIS, Agustin Carstens, has stepped into the spotlight, urging governments to pave the way for Central Bank Digital Currencies (CBDCs). Speaking at the BISIH-FSI conference in Switzerland on September 27, Carstens made a compelling case for the urgent establishment of a legal framework that would foster the creation and integration of CBDCs into the financial landscape.
Carstens didn’t mince words when he expressed his concerns about the potential roadblocks that an outdated or unclear legal framework could pose to the implementation of CBDCs. He emphasized that it’s simply unacceptable for such ambiguity to stand in the way of progress.
Citing a revealing report from the International Monetary Fund (IMF), Carstens highlighted a startling statistic: approximately 80% of central banks are either prohibited from issuing digital currency by existing laws or find themselves entangled in legal gray areas. With the public clamoring for payment solutions that align with their expectations, Carstens emphasized the urgency of acknowledging this demand.
In today’s interconnected world, consumers are increasingly seeking innovative payment methods that empower them to conduct cross-border transactions swiftly, affordably, and securely. Carstens asserted that this growing demand underscores the importance of central banks stepping up to create CBDCs tailored to the unique needs of their regions.
Privacy, data protection, financial system integrity, and user choice were all cornerstones of Carstens’ vision for CBDCs. He stressed that countries must ensure the privacy of CBDC users, safeguard their data, maintain the integrity of the financial system, and allow users to choose between CBDCs and other forms of currency.
Survey data from the Committee on Payments and Market Infrastructures (CPMI) revealed that a significant 93% of central banks were already engaged in CBDC-related projects as far back as 2016. These projects varied in focus, with some central banks exploring retail CBDCs designed for the general public and others concentrating on wholesale CBDCs tailored for interbank transfers.
In closing, Carstens left no room for doubt: “Central banks have a mandate to meet those demands and have made significant investments to address the technical and operational requirements for CBDCs. It is simply unacceptable that unclear or outdated legal frameworks could hinder their deployment.”
As the world moves closer to embracing digital currencies, the call for clear legal pathways is growing louder. Governments and central banks face the challenge of adapting to a financial landscape that’s rapidly evolving in response to the demands of a digital age.