Gabriel Soderberg, Ms. Marianne Bechara, Wouter Bossu, Ms. Natasha X Che, Sonja Davidovic, Mr. John Kiff, Ms. Inutu Lukonga, Mr. Tommaso Mancini Griffoli, Tao Sun, and Akihiro Yoshinaga
Central banks are increasingly pondering whether to issue their own digital currencies to the general public, so-called retail central bank digital currency (CBDC). The majority of IMF member countries are actively evaluating CBDCs, with only a few having issued CBDCs or undertaken extensive pilots or tests. This paper shines the spotlight on the handful of countries at the frontier in the hope of identifying and sharing insights, lessons, and open questions for the benefit of the many countries following in their footsteps. Clearly, what can be gleaned from these experiences does not necessarily apply elsewhere. The sample of countries remains small and country circumstances differ widely. However, the insights in this paper may inspire further investigation and allow countries to gain time by building on the experience of others. Importantly, the purpose of this paper is not to evaluate the courses taken by different jurisdictions, but to study and discuss their key experiences and lessons. The paper studies six advanced CBDC projects, drawing on collaboration and exchanges with the respective central banks to get insights beyond what has previously been published. Unless a specific published source is cited, all information stems from interviews and workshops with members of CBDC project teams in each jurisdiction.
Parma Bains, Nobuyasu Sugimoto, and Christopher Wilson
BigTech firms are gradually entering the financial sector and becoming important service providers, particularly in emerging markets. BigTechs have entered financial services using platform-based technology to facilitate payments and more recently expanded into other areas, such as lending, asset management, and insurance services. They accumulate data from their nonfinancial and financial activities and draw on consumer data held in different parts of their business (such as via social media). BigTechs are applying new approaches to existing financial services products and services such as underwriting using big data and are also applying machine learning for their key business decisions, such as pricing and risk management across multiple financial sectors. Incumbent financial firms have also increased their reliance on BigTech firms to host core IT systems (for example, cloud-based services, which have the potential to improve efficiency and security). This rapid and significant expansion of BigTechs in financial services and their interconnectedness with financial service firms are potentially creating new channels of systemic risks. To achieve effective implementation and multiple objectives of financial regulation and supervision, a hybrid approach, combining a mix of entity- and activity-based approaches, is needed.
Technology plays an increasingly important role in financial services. With the pace of technological inno-vation moving ever faster, the role new technology plays in the provision of financial services is becoming increasingly fundamental. New technology can generate efficiencies for firms, lowering costs that can be passed on to end users. It can increase access to financial services and products for consumers, particularly the most vulnerable; however, new technology can also create new risks and unintended consequences that can harm financial stability, consumer protection, and market integrity. This primer is designed for financial supervisors at central banks, regulatory authorities, and government departments. It adds to existing literature by summarizing key aspects of popular consensus mechanisms at a high level, with a specific focus on how such mechanisms may impact the mandates of supervisors and policymakers when deployed in financial services markets. It could also help inform IMF staff on policy development and technical assistance related to crypto assets, stablecoins, and blockchains.