Should Central Banks Issue Digital Currency?

Study by Todd Keister and Daniel Sanches.

Recent technological advances have introduced the possibility for central banks to issue a new type of money, often referred to as a digital currency.

Traditionally, central banks have issued physical currency, in the form of paper notes and/or coins, and allowed banks and select other institutions to hold deposits at the central bank, often called reserves. A digital currency could combine features of these two existing types of money and, potentially, introduce new features as well. Like physical currency, a central bank-issued digital currency could be made widely available to firms and households in the economy. Like reserves, a digital currency would exist in electronic form, making it easier than physical currency to store and to use in transactions at a distance, and could potentially earn interest. Academics and policy makers have begun discussing a range of issues from technical design features to political economy concerns.1 Central banks themselves have begun evaluating the potential benefits and costs of issuing digital currency.2 At a fundamental level, however, the macroeconomic implications of such a currency are not well understood.

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