The State of Central Bank Digital Currencies

The Race Continues but Is Far From the Finish Line

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About This Report
CBDCs are considered a more viable application of blockchain technology, bringing together the best attributes of fiat and cryptocurrencies. Mainstream usage is years away—but established payments players can start preparing for their launch now.
Table of Contents

Executive Summary

Despite a calamitous year in the cryptocurrency industry, governments worldwide are still pouring resources into central bank digital currency (CBDC) exploration. CBDCs offer a more sustainable—and far less volatile—alternative to traditional cryptos. Yet CBDCs must overcome significant implementation hurdles, leaving US adoption still many years away.

Key Question: What should payment incumbents expect in terms of CBDC exploration over the next few years?

KEY STAT: Countries don’t want to be left out of the CBDC rat race: Of the 81 central banks surveyed by the Bank for International Settlements (BIS) in fall 2021, 90% said they were exploring CBDCs.

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Table of Contents

  1. Executive Summary
  2. A CBDC is a cryptocurrency asset class offered by central banks.
  3. CBDCs can normalize and bring long-term viability to crypto payments after a tumultuous year.
  4. And financial institutions want in on CBDCs’ benefits.
  5. The number of governments engaged in CBDC work has grown 38% since 2017.
  1. Only 11 countries have launched CBDCs, but 89 are exploring them.
  2. More launches are coming.
  3. China is leading the way as the first major economy to debut a CBDC.
  4. The US is falling behind in the race, having gotten a late start in 2020.
  5. Before CBDCs can become mainstream, they must clear hurdles inherent to any new payment method.
  1. How should payment incumbents prepare?
  2. Sources
  3. Media Gallery

authors

Grace Broadbent

Contributors

David Morris
Principal Analyst
Melissa Rosenberg
Senior Researcher
Jaime Toplin
Senior Analyst
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