Governments embrace digital currencies
The digitalisation of the economy has spurred the popularity of cryptocurrencies in recent years. A revolution in the financial system that has led some governments’ central banks, initially reluctant to introduce them, to start issuing their own digital currencies. We analyse the reasons behind this change of mentality.
The capitalisation of financial markets by digital currencies, especially cryptocurrencies such as bitcoin, continues to increase year after year. Technological automation and distrust of traditional banking institutions due to banking abuses have led to the emergence of cryptocurrencies based on blockchain technology, which makes them more secure than physical currencies, and which do not depend on a central bank.
It is precisely this decentralisation of monetary creation, which characterises cryptocurrencies, that has been the spearhead of their popularity. In other words, they democratise the creation of currency while diluting the banking monopoly, hitherto exclusive to governments and central banks. This paradigm shift is a threat to those who have always held economic power, and one of the most obvious changes to the status quo that has facilitated the entry of digital currencies into the global economy.
This obviously does not please everyone, especially states and the financial institutions that serve them, which see their power of coercion and control of the population diluted. It is therefore not surprising that governments, central banks, and financial institutions such as the International Monetary Fund (IMF) or the World Bank, which were previously opposed to decentralised cryptocurrencies, are now more optimistic when it comes to digital currencies under their control, the so-called central bank digital currencies (CBDC).
If you can’t beat them, join them
Several central banks are working on the development of digital currencies, but some countries, such as China, are well advanced in the testing process. The Asian giant already has 261 million people using the digital yuan, e-CNY, which was used to make payments of more than 280,000 euros a day during the Beijing Winter Olympics.
In this context, the European Central Bank (ECB) does not want to be left behind and is developing its own electronic currency. The digital euro, managed and supervised by the ECB, can be used by citizens and businesses alike, but it will not replace cash, but complement it. The European Commission expects the regulation to be ready by early 2023 and the currency to be operational by 2025.
Other countries such as Sweden, Uruguay, and the United States are also experimenting with centralised digital currencies. This trend is gaining momentum as many central banks consider issuing their own digital currency to prevent their physical currency from losing ground.
Even so, in addition to the potential of digital currencies to drive innovation in new products, processes, and services that can be incorporated into business models, there is also an economic and geopolitical aspect. In other words, a whole set of interests of various players make it easy to predict that the rise of digital currencies is here to stay.
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