‘Within the next two years, the first fully operational central bank digital currency will have been launched.’
This was the view of 51% of respondents to a poll held at OMFIF’s recent panel discussion about the prospects for CBDC. The question intentionally left some room for interpretation. While it excluded experiments of the kind that a number of central banks throughout the world have already undertaken, it did not specify whether it referred to wholesale or retail CBDC. Nor did it ask attendees to express a view on whether the first operational CBDC will be issued in a developed country or an emerging economy, where the motivation for accelerating the introduction of CBDC may be very different. In cashless Sweden, for example, concerns about the marginalisation of cash are the main driver for exploring the potential of an e-krona. In emerging countries with extensive unbanked populations, financial inclusion is regarded as the main benefit of introducing CBDC. More broadly, according to respondents to the OMFIF poll, it is the enhanced efficiencies to be extracted from CBDC that are most appealing to central banks.