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Currency Race Heats Up - Brainard Pushes Digital Payment Systems

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EDITOR NOTE: We’ve said this before, but we’ll say it again. There are many benefits that come with a digital dollar. Those who are “unbanked” or “underbanked” will have access to digital funds. The government, with the help of the Fed, will have an easier time injecting funds into the economy by sending them directly to households. There are plenty of other benefits as well, many of them mentioned in the article below. But what concerns us the most is what’s never mentioned. The risks, in other words. What if the Fed, deciding that it’s time for people to spend and consume, imposed negative rates on the digital cash you’re not using? Your money begins declining fractionally the longer it sits in the Fed’s digital payment systems. What if the government decides that it’s time to implement a Universal Basic Income plan, bringing American society closer to a socialist model? And what if the government and the Fed decides it wants to collect, record, and surveil your financial data and transactional histories? There goes the end of privacy and the right to savings. Sooner or later, our monetary system will be 100% digitized. And when it does, non-CUSIP physical gold and silver are going to be the only monetary assets left that aren’t subject to the whims and controls of an increasingly socialistic government.

Federal Reserve Governor Lael Brainard pressed the case for a digital dollar, saying Monday that a cryptocurrency backed by the central bank could provide a variety of benefits.

Providing financial services to the nearly 1 in 5 Americans considered “underbanked” is one of the advantages Brainard cited in a speech to a conference presented by Coindesk.

She also cited the safety of a Fed-backed system, as well as improvements in efficiency and cross-border payments, or transactions between people in different countries.

While stressing the importance of moving forward carefully, Brainard said the Covid-19 pandemic strengthened the need for a system in which a broad swath of the public has access to well-regulated digital money.

“The Federal Reserve remains committed to ensuring that the public has access to safe, reliable, and secure means of payment, including cash,” she said. “As part of this commitment, we must explore — and try to anticipate — the extent to which households’ and businesses’ needs and preferences may migrate further to digital payments over time.”

Those comments come days after Fed Chairman Jerome Powell announced that the central bank this summer would be releasing a working paper that addresses multiple issues involving Central Bank Digital Currencies.

The Boston Fed and MIT have launched a joint project in which they will set up a hypothetical model, and several other Fed districts also are involved with research of their own.

Essentially, the development of the CBDC would give consumers broader access to electronic currency, the likes of which have been popularized with the use of bitcoin and its myriad peers. China’s central bank has been moving forward with its own project as have various others around the world.

Brainard said the pandemic presented an example of how important developing a Fed-backed currency could be.

When Congress began sending relief payments at the outset, some individuals didn’t get theirs for weeks because they either did not have accounts or their information was not updated with the IRS. A CBDC would help get money more quickly to those people, she said.

“In the United States, the pandemic led to an acceleration of the migration to digital payments as well as increased demand for cash,” Brainard said in prepared remarks. “While the use of cash spiked at certain times, there was a pronounced shift by consumers and businesses to contactless transactions facilitated by electronic payments.”

Brainard noted, without naming specific cryptocurrencies, that alternate payment systems present multiple problems, including potential fraud.

“In contrast, a digital dollar would be a new type of central bank money issued in digital form for use by the general public,” she said. “By introducing safe central bank money that is accessible to households and businesses in digital payments systems, a CBDC would reduce counterparty risk and the associated consumer protection and financial stability risks.”

The Fed has not set a timetable for its currency. The FedNow Service, which would be a payments system that in some ways would resemble a digital dollar, is expected to come on line in two years.

Original post from CNBC

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