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G7 finance officials endorse principles for central bank digital currencies (reuters.com)
48 points by e2e4 11 days ago | hide | past | favorite | 77 comments

I can't envisage a central bank digital currency for which the general public user can retain all the keys to an account, as per bitcoin wallets.

Crypto people assure me that old style banks would gladly facilitate handing over complete control of all the keys to users but I'm entirely unconvinced.

Due to this lack of control, I believe this is the intended endgame: https://blogs.imf.org/2019/02/05/cashing-in-how-to-make-nega...

You are fundamentally misunderstanding CBDCs here by conflating CBDCs with cryptocurrencies.

The concept of a CBDC is simply a digital currency where normal people hold digital accounts with the central bank instead of using a retail bank. That's it. No prescription for the storage mechanism. It could be a relational database, a block chain or memory on J Powell's old graphing calculator from highschool. A CBDC is digital in the same way that your credit card is digital. It's just that a computer tracks the Fed liability not a little green piece of paper.

Here's a piece of legislation proposing a US CBDC . https://www.congress.gov/bill/116th-congress/senate-bill/357...

Go look for the words cryptocurrency or blockchain in it. They aren't there. It's simply a mechanism for retail banks to hold "pass through" accounts for consumer accounts at the fed.

It's not the implementation that is my concern, it is that a digital currency makes it even easier for banks to impose negative rates than cash.

I doubt that you really think central banks, retail banks and the imf have no intention to abolish physical cash. Abolishing it is all upside for them.

Well abolishing cash is almost all upside for everyone.

For retailers (companies that accept payments) it's easier, faster, cheaper and safer ( zero risk of theft by staff or robbery). For regular people that pay it's easier, faster, more linear ( if you have to spend X now, you don't have to have withdrawn it from an ATM or bank before).

The only downsides are underbanked people and companies, which is an issue in itself and needs to be fixed regardless of cash availability (I'm talking in general, but even more so for developing countries and the US(wasn't it in the news recently that the US Postal Service is going to be cashing checks at some ridiculously expensive rate? Way to get in to the 19th century!)), and of course privacy, for which regulation is needed ( who has access to your payment/transaction data and in what cases) and it's solved for 90% of cases.

Do you also believe negative interest rates, larger than people are facing now in spite of a wave of inflation, are almost all upside for everyone?

Yes, negative interest rates encourage long term thinking. Lower financing costs will result in less cost push inflation for manufactured goods and services. They remove the need for a post capitalism system. They most likely would have stopped the great depression and prevented world war 2. They reduce inequality by forcing rich people to spend and invest their money instead of sitting on it during times of economic uncertainty.

So are you in favour of both abolishing physical cash and negative interest rates?

(larger than now, how big a negative interest rate are you in favour of? Nevermind: I see from your other comment, 5%, immediate bank run territory.)

You realise lower financing costs do the opposite of encouraging long term thinking. The inflation cost is merely moved to deflation cost of cash.

What do you mean by a post capitalism system?

You realise that hyperinflation contributed to WW2, and that in the event of negative rates the rich move out of cash into another asset(like housing). See Roosevelt and the gold standard. I honestly doubt that negative rates would have avoided the Great Depression.

Wealth taxes also reduce inequality and can be more progressive than negative interest rates which hit middle income earners the hardest, who try to save for retirement.

Another big downside: when you pay something with cash, it hurts. It physically hurts. You give your hard earned cash and get back the goods. Cash is gone. But when you pay with a credit card, you give your credit card to cashier, she gives you goods and your card back. It doesn't hurt. Your brain registers this as not spending because you got your card back. As a result, people spend way more when they use cards in comparison with cash.

In the countries I've lived (Europe, both south and north), financial waste doesn't come from things you pay in cash, but from things we have not paid in cash for decades (rent/mortgage, car loans, monthly services, expensive travel...).

I agree, and that only reinforces my point! With the exception of buying home which is almost impossible to buy with cash, everything else would really hurt if one had to give cash for it! And I bet that a lot of financial waste would be no more if one had to count the bills for vacation, then for car loan (BTW, I bought a car outright), then for Netflix/Amazon Prime/whatever monthly subscription etc.

if your iq is above 80, after few months you will make the logical connection, i believe

It seems there are millions and millions of people that didn't make that connection. Credit card companies are thriving.

Hold on, "cheaper"? Tell that to people paying 1-3% transaction fees on credit cards. Even square is 2.6%.

I distinctly remember articles about coffee shops and similar going cashless in a few different countries ( UK, France at the very least) because managing cash costs time and money ( it needs to be counted, stored, safely transported to the bank, etc.) and doing card-only payments comes out cheaper for them.

Banks usually charge .9-1.5% for cash deposits, plus staff time to count, insurance, safes, etc.

A debit card costs .10c and no %. A well implemented cryptocurrency would be even less.

> Go look for the words cryptocurrency or blockchain in it.

Look at the BIS's annual economic report for this year [0]. They are absolutely talking about retail tokens based on a distributed ledger as one of two retail options, the other being as you describe.

[0] https://www.bis.org/publ/arpdf/ar2021e3.htm

I was also puzzled as to why Reuters had chosen a cryptocurrency stock photo for the article.

GP is talking about retail CBDC, which is user-facing in addition to being bank-facing only like current central banks. Not all CBDCs talk about retail, and it’s not clear if any would actually aim to provide that feature.

A vast majority of discussion about CBDC is about retail CBDC.

Interbank and internation transactions are already digital. The Fed already has wholesale digital liabilities

That's not true, and the point of a CBDC is not just that it's digital but that you easily join and use the network. Today interbanking is a mess.

Interbanking is as mess, but the standard everyone is settling on is ISO 20022 messages and the plumbing will slowly be refactored for pushing these messages around.


Suddenly it seems like one should invest in gold or whatever, to counter this.

You can also use cash, to deny data harvesting, which is one of the primary business drivers for CBDCs. Data about money is worth more than money. SF, NYC, Philly, MA and NJ have laws requiring cash acceptance. In addition, NYC passed one of the first bills requiring restaurant delivery apps to share transaction data with restaurants.

CBDC advocates are contemplating laws that will affect data (the most valuable asset and not well understood) while focusing most legislative attention on money. Instead, we could start by restoring legal data ownership to individuals. Then banks and fintech and bigtech can compete against each other to gain the consent of individuals for data access, in exchange for services and/or payment, with meaningful access and usage controls. In other words, enforce algorithmic micro-policy on corporate use of individual data, not on individual behavior.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xfyAzNPzMD0 "Remember: Reality is an illusion; the universe is a hologram; buy gold — bye!"

It doesn't solve anything if there are central banks to begin with. The same old stuff, ripping off people with inflation, making the rich richer with low interest rates only rich people can borrow at...

> Stablecoins are a type of digital coin pegged to traditional currencies.

And that's issue, with "stablecoins", exchanges become cartels operating fractional reserves, no different from the traditional banking system... the crypto world was really quick at just re-inventing the same old banking model, but with their own made up monopoly bills...

CBDCs will be an absolute disaster for personal privacy, and personal liberty. Piss off the wrong person in the right position and suddenly there's a "mistake" where you can't function at all in society.

I highly recommend Brett Scott's writing on this subject: https://twitter.com/suitpossum?lang=en

you could design them from the ground up with human rights in mind and limit the control from centralized authorities

> They reiterated that no global stablecoin project should begin operation until it addresses legal, regulatory and oversight requirements, echoing a similar statement made by the larger Group of 20 finance officials earlier Wednesday.

We’re in a weird space, where statements from these authorities are only targeting government-based digital ledgers while private companies are already operating these stablecoins (celo, usdc, tether, dai)

> while private companies are already operating these stablecoins (celo, usdc, tether, dai)

I think these plans are aimed at projects that are backed by real money instead of fictional money and/or criminal Ponzi schemes.

usdc is backed by real money

makerdao is incorporated in any jurisdiction? 3 of 4 of those are centralized and incorporated (there are also many more non incorperated decentralized ones cropping up, like fei, ohm, etc)

is this in any way related to the OECD international tax agreement?

CBDCs could upturn existing assumptions about the role of currencies, e.g. from June of this year, https://www.msn.com/en-gb/money/other/bank-of-england-tells-...

> Tom Mutton, a director at the Bank of England, said during a conference on Monday that programming could become a key feature of any future central bank digital currency ... what happens if one of the participants in a transaction puts a restriction on [future use of the money]? ... Sir Jon Cunliffe, a deputy Governor at the Bank, said digital currencies could be programmed for commercial or social purposes ... “You could think of giving your children pocket money, but programming the money so that it couldn’t be used for sweets. There is a whole range of things that money could do, programmable money, which we cannot do with the current technology.”

At an IMF meeting in Oct 2020, Swiss BIS director Carstens commented on CBDCs, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mVmKN4DSu3g&t=1451s

> With cash, we don't know who is using the 100 dollar bill today ... a key difference with CBDC is that the central bank will have absolute control on the rules and regulations that determine the expression of that central bank liability .. also we will have the technology to enforce that ... if an advanced economy issues a CBDC, and someone in a 3rd country wants to use it, it will require the consent of the central bank of the residence of that person, therefore the degree of control will be far bigger.

Well-intentioned initiatives like Linux Foundation's global vaccine passport (https://www.goodhealthpass.org/), EU digital health certificate and Apple+Android digital driver's license can all be drafted into the service of CBDC initiatives which require digital identity for digital currency wallets, unifying online and offline policy for programmable "permissions" like carbon/food quotas or other social credits. If western citizens acclimate to "showing papers" for routine daily movement, then real-time currency policy can be applied for admission and activity control. This could replace fungible currency with "colored credits", with policy attached to both the origin of money and a whitelist of possible destinations, goods or services. As a current example, PayPal has amended their ToS to include merchant content regulation as a condition of payment processing.

That's just scratching the surface. Some proposals would eliminate the ability of retail banks to issue loans/money, restricting this function to central banks. Retail banks could then be repurposed as fintech data custodians and risk management, similar to Chinese social credit. Some of these ideas are discussed in the "FedAccounts" paper and related testimony to Congress, https://scholarship.law.vanderbilt.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?a....

> Congress should authorize the FederalReserve to give everyone-individuals, businesses, and institutions-the option to maintain accounts at the central bank. We call these accounts FedAccounts. Unlike the CBDC approaches currently under discussion, which would use complicated and inefficient distributed ledger technology and be walled off from the existing system of money and payments, FedAccounts would be seamlessly interoperable with the mainstream payment system, relying on technologies that the Federal Reserve has used for decades.

What are the options for those who prefer physical currency? In the US, pre-1965 ("junk") silver coins can be used to conduct local commerce based on the value of silver content, rather than face value. In theory, regional digital currencies could be created that are backed by precious metals or other physical, non-fiat assets. Texas has a state-administered bullion depository. CBDCs will require enabling legislation in each country, so there will be political debate in the next year or two, including the fates of decentralized cryptocurrencies and corporate digital currencies (e.g. Facebook, Amazon).

For historical background on central bank policy, see the 2014 documentary "Princes of the Yen", https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p5Ac7ap_MAY & https://moviesteve.com/review-princes-of-the-yen-2014/ or the upcoming 2021 documentary "The Trust Game", https://vimeo.com/ondemand/trustgame/626995630?autoplay=1

This is so gut wrenchingly dystopian I gave up reading half way in. If this is the world we are heading towards, i'm rooting for climate change.

Some HN readers have more options than others (airline pilots, truck drivers, ship port workers) to remove their creative energy from building dystopian systems. It's all about timing and acting while we still have relative degrees of freedom. https://www.finextra.com/pressarticle/89541/bank-of-england-...

Overtly dystopian plans are an initial shock, but they enable early response. One reason for public pronouncements is the need for enabling legislation, i.e. consent of the governed and taxed. There are a few ways to say no, individually and collectively, https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=28861636

thanks for this unusually positive/hopeful take. Instead of crashing the party again with some negativity I'm gonna leave it at this :^)

Not really looking forward to a global currency, with a government that can monitor the entire chain, tied to a vaccine passport...

I can't wait for Visa to reject my burrito order because my tweets are marked as hate speech in Pakistan.

The World Economic Forum has proposed a credit card which has a carbon-emission limit. Your burrito order might get declined because you killed too many theoretical trees that month.

That already happens...onlyfans anyone?

This probably wouldn’t even be a blockchain right? Just an emphemeral account balance on a gov server.

I’m far from anti-government libertarian but I like nothing about this. It doesn’t solve any user issues over what’s in place now but adds a massive privacy concern.

Government already can get access to my financial data in many instances... And sadly I trust my government slightly more than I trust VISA/MC. Ofc, also the charges for banking start to feel bit high, so if this was free or fully tax paid I would be up for that reason too.

That's funny you say that, because Visa founder Dee Hock is now retired and on twitter and thoughtfully warning about the massive centralization of power that is unfolding behind the scenes.

Do you have a link to share?

All your payments data is aggregated, correlated across different providers, repackaged and resold on such a massive scale that any notion that you have any privacy left is sadly very quaint.

True, but at least this is all for money and takes effort to aggregate. A kind of “proof of work” for government privacy invasion.

Central Bank Digital Cash puts it on a central server, time stamped and with access logs.

It’s not as collected as you may think. I work in the space and the data you can use in most cases is extremely limited. The companies determining credit ratings know quite a bit, banks themselves are relatively limited. They definitely can’t watch every transaction.

> Not really looking forward to a global currency

Yeah, this is a fascist's wet dream.

bitcoin maximalists want exactly this to happen

How is that connected in any way to a vaccine passport?


If you conduct business with an unvaccinated person you receive $5k fines in Australia. $1k to the individual.

This has been escalating, one thing I suggest to people — pull out your vaccination card. How many slots are on the card? They could have made the card fit into your wallet, if it’s was smaller and didn’t have 4 slots for those 2 shots. Oh darn, now you have to use the app.

This isn’t going to stop.

“Who controls the food supply controls the people; who controls the energy can control whole continents; who controls money can control the world” — Henry Kissinger

> This isn’t going to stop.

In some countries, it will, of course, stop. The goal in most countries is not to live with a vaccination passport forever, the goal is to curb and end the global pandemic. Once this goal has been achieved, vaccinatoin checks will go away.

You are very naive if you believe this will go away anytime soon. They don't call it the "new normal" for no reason.

Just like how TSA went away after we ended global terrorism?

Do you think it's many steps away?

For example: Seattle is about to ban in-person dining w/o a vaccine card. An easy way to enforce that? Have the credit card processors reject payment at a dining establishment from anyone who hasn't proven vaccination status w/ Visa and MasterCard.

When there's a central gov agency with control over financial transactions I 100% guarantee every crusade of the moment is going to try to use it as leverage.

That’s not an easy way to enforce that! An easy way is just to have people check ids, like they’re going to do I assume -same way most of Europe is doing it.

Restaurants can't even hire enough people to actually keep their businesses open some days and on good days you'll see a sea of empty tables and a wait-list to get in and now they are supposed to have someone dedicated to checking IDs too? I guess the 16 year old at the front will perform that duty diligently too.

It's much, much easier for the government to exert control over the financial institutions than to ensure that businesses are checking IDs manually (many businesses will not bother, out of either principled disagreement or apathy).

> It's much, much easier for the government to exert control over the financial institutions

Citation needed. Europe has been rolling out proof of vaccination at high speed and with low costs associated.

Oh and yes, most business do bother and check thoroughly (scan of QR code which is proof of vaccination/recovered/negatively tested status, check ID matches name on certificate).

Control through financial instituations is not even possible, how so?

Local restaurants can reject discriminatory and un-scientific vaxport mandates by closing their in-person dining room and serving takeout only -- to any customer. With a discount for cash purchases.

Or get a good lawyer, pool with other restaurants and challenge the fines. Some states have lost in court against challenges to 2020 restrictions, fines were voided and the state had to cover legal costs for the lawsuit which challenged the state.

Because quite literally the same vendors who built vaccine passports are bidding on CBDC contacts?

It's gonna happen. The same vendors developing vaccine passports have been bidding on CBDC contracts.

People need to wake up and see that CBDCs are literal serfdom. It is the imposition of micro-level, algorithmic economic sanctions on YOU.

Once they are fully implemented and a network effect has taken hold, we will truly own nothing.

This is a good example of what someone posts when they're deep into some kind of ideology. Isiq I sincerely hope you reflect on this post and question exactly what you mean by some of the terms you use here: "serfdom", "micro-level", "algorithmic economic sanctions", "network effect". Each of these have meanings that are probably not what you mean, but nevertheless, I will attempt to address this comment in good faith.

Under your assumed perspective, all forms of taxation are "sanctions" or "theft", regardless of how useful taxes are to improving the lives of everyone. Fine, believe that if you want, but good luck building this extreme society; I want no part of it.

It's quite a ridiculous notion to believe that CBDCs will lead to no one owning anything. Have banks in general led to people owning less? I think it's just the opposite; the banking system has created enormous amounts of wealth for everyone. Sure, there are inefficiencies, especially in housing, but there are many, many reasons for that (supply of homes and building regulations/codes, for examples).

Ownership has zero meaning at all outside of a government system which enforces property rights with the power of force. Good luck keeping that government system functional without taxation. Even the US tried to do that a few centuries ago and failed miserably.

I really have a hard time taking your comment seriously by the way you framed it, but regardless, I have tried to keep this in good faith by assuming a few of your (unstated but implied) positions. Let me know if you think I assumed incorrectly

I will take the risk and give an explanation.

The are two first principles that few fully understand: The first is that we are creatures of commerce - that is how we sustain ourselves. The economy is the total FLOW of all concurrent commercial transactions, and this is conducted via cash & money. For an artistic, but accurate image of the world we live in see this scene from Network (1976): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=35DSdw7dHjs&t=89s.

The second first principle is that you are a sovereign spirit in this universe, and so is everybody else. There are no behavioral rules in the natural reality, only in the social reality. The rules, symbols, ideologies, religions, and institutions exist to manipulate other people's behavior and concentrate cash flows in the great system that is the economy. But in the pure state of nature, it really is only you.

The cash flows concentrate as the more capital you start with the more you can acquire. The precious few people who reach the "Center of Cash Flows" ultimately do so with force; they kill people over money, embezzle public funds, and so on because they are sovereign in their selfish minds. They are not "above the law," the law is simply for other people, not them. That is and has always been the true nature of "government."

But we have governments now that are sophisticated enough that we don't even know their true nature. It's like a laundromat owned by the Triads. You don't ever see the Triads, you don't know who owns the place, you simply go in and put your quarters into the machines.

The logical outcome of our combined individual sovereign states is that there is and has always been a human or some humans who are truly sovereign, who can break and make the rules and are not subject to the rules themselves because there is no higher power above them. They are the power and they derive that power from their control of the cash flows.

Unfortunately, if we are to form a peaceful society, only they can be sovereign; if everyone behaved in sovereign fashion we'd all be killing and stealing from each other all the time and that's not good for anyone. The sovereign sets the rules of the game that everyone underneath plays.[1]

The problem, as we know from history, is that the sovereigns themselves are a point of failure and we occasionally get a Stalin or Pol Pot there who have no vestigial empathy, and we have a "monopoly government" of total extortion, subjugation, and death.

The own nothing was only a joking reference to this https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lBBxWtKKQiA which has become a bit of meme.

So can you now see how this proposed "database money" is some unknown sovereign person(s) wanting to take all your money?

[1] Maybe centuries from now can reach a state where everyone understands their sovereign states but chooses cooperation. We could solve the prisoner's dilemma with transparency, as cooperation would win out and we'd all have better outcomes.

>[1] Maybe centuries from now can reach a state where everyone understands their sovereign states but chooses cooperation. We could solve the prisoner's dilemma with transparency, as cooperation would win out and we'd all have better outcomes.

Or you can introduce -5% negative interest on cash today and end this debate without having to wait centuries.

That may increase the velocity of money, but it also will drive up prices of liquid assets like index funds as those assets replace the store of value function money.

Although my post was more about cleaning up corruption via transparent and verifiable government bookeeping, etc.

The phrase "You will own n_t_i_g" is a form of negative hypnosis. People should stop repeating it, before a genie jumps out of a bottle and grants their "wish".

Try some of these phrases instead:

  Sunlight is the best disinfectant.
  Internet improves transparency.
  Local trade builds trust.
  Citizens can audit tax expenditures.
  Finance is built on contract law and consent.

> we will truly own nothing.

So cash to the rescue?

Plus local bricks & mortar transactions where human trust is still a factor.

Circulate precious metals locally, which have some intrinsic value above fiat currency.

Crypto to the rescue! It is a mistake to conflate a CBDC or a fiat-based stablecoin with an actual cryptocurrency. (I will refrain from shilling a specific one.)

It's a mistake, that (any) crypto would solve any of the issues at hand.

Principles? Here we go:

- Retain the full ability to print as much funny money as necessary, same as now

- Track every user and every transaction

- Tax the shit out of everyone, fix the "cash problem"

- Cancel wallets of "terrorists" such as people who had Covid-19 and don't want to get vaccinated

> any CBDC should be grounded in our long-standing public commitments to transparency, the rule of law and sound economic governance

Only way to do that which I am aware of is a type of cryptocurrency.

> the rule of law and sound economic governance

> Only way to do that which I am aware of is a type of cryptocurrency.

Is there a cryptocurrency you associate with rule of law and sound economic governance?

It starts with transparency. The basic requirement is to be able to verify that people aren't cheating. Cryptocurrencies are the best known way to do this.

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