The Strategist

Central banks differ in views of crypto currencies

11/29/2017 - 11:15

More recently, central banks of the world have faced two important issues. First, what to do with the emerging non-state crypto-currencies? Interest in them has grown considerably, and the price of Bitcoin, the most famous and popular digital currency, has come close to $ 10,000 (and even exceeded this mark at some exchanges). Secondly, should banks to issue state versions of cryptocurrencies? Here is a brief overview of the world's largest central banks’ attitude to cryptocurrencies.

namecoin via flickr
namecoin via flickr
USA: Concerns about confidentiality

The Fed is just beginning to discover the crypto-currency world. The US Central Bank is not particularly enthusiastic about a centralized version of Bitcoin. Earlier this year, Jerome Powell, a member of the governing board and probably the future chairman of the Fed, said that the introduction of technology is still fraught with serious difficulties. According to him, "controllability and control over risk is of decisive importance." Powell believes that there are "significant" difficulties in implementation of the state crypto currency, and there are a number of problems with confidentiality. In some cases, a non-state crypto currency is a good alternative.

Euro zone: Central banks are not in danger

 This month, the head of the ECB, Mario Draghi, said that the impact of digital currencies on the economy of the euro zone is small and they do not pose a serious threat to the monopoly of central banks on the issue of money. However, a former member of the European Central Bank Benoît Cœuré noted serious risks created by the unstable value of the crypto currency and its relationship with tax evasion and crime.

China: "Suitable conditions"

China made it clear: the central bank controls the entire crypto currency market. As early as in 2014, the People's Bank of China created a team to develop their own digital money. Now, the bank notes that "the current conditions are excellent" for the introduction of new technology. On the other hand, the regulator pursues a strict policy with respect to independent crypto-currencies, prohibiting Bitcoin trading and other crypto-active assets on exchanges. The date of presentation of the state digital currency has not yet been called, but the authorities are sure that it will increase efficiency of payments and provide more complete control over the movement of cash.

Japan: Yet to discover

In October, the head of the Bank of Japan Haruhiko Kuroda said that the regulator did not plan to issue digital currencies, but it is important to expand knowledge about them. In particular, Kuroda said: "The release of the central bank's affordable digital currency looks as if the regulator suddenly opened free access to its accounts. In other words, establishment of the Central Election Commission will entail a review of foundations of the activities of central banks. "

Germany: "Speculative toy"

In a country where most residents still prefer to pay in cash, the central bank is particularly wary of the appearance of Bitcoin and other crypto-currencies. In September, a member of the governing board, Carl-Ludwig Thiele, stated that "Bitcoin is more of a speculative toy than a form of payment." In his view, transfer of deposits into the blockchain would disrupt the business models of banks and limit the impact of monetary policy. At the same time, the Bank of Germany is actively exploring possible ways of applying technology in payment systems.

United Kingdom: Potential "revolution"

The head of the Bank of England, Mark Carney, believes that crypto-currencies are capable of generating a potential "revolution" in finance. Last year, the central bank created an "accelerator of financial technologies" - an analogue of a startup incubator. Carney says that the blockchain-based technology has "wide opportunities" and allows central banks to strengthen protection from cyber attacks and modernize the ways of conducting payments between companies and consumers. At the same time, he warns that creation of a digital version of the pound sterling will take long time.
France: "With extreme caution"

In June, the head of the Bank of France, François Villeroy de Galhau, said: "The authorities recommend approaching Bitcoin with extreme caution, because it is not followed by any state institution. History shows that all previous attempts to release private currencies ended in failure. Bitcoin has even a dark side – just remember the attacks of hackers. Those who buy Bitcoins do so at their own peril."

India: Banned

The Central Bank of India is opposed to crypto-currencies, believing that they can become a channel for money laundering and terrorist financing. Nevertheless, the bank has a special group, which is studying the possibility of using crypto-currencies issued by governments as a legal tender. Currently, the use of crypto-active assets in the country is equated with violation of the law on foreign currencies.

Brazil: Supporting innovation 

The central bank of Brazil does not see "an immediate danger to the financial system of the country," while carefully monitoring the development and use of crypto-currency, the regulator said this month. The bank promises to "support innovation, including new technologies that increase security and efficiency of the financial system."

Canada: Assets

This month, Bank of Canada’s senior vice-governor Carolyn Wilkins, who led the government's research in the field of crypto-currency, said that she did not consider them real money. "It's more like a real asset or securities, and you need to treat them accordingly," she says. Like many of her colleagues, she believes that the blockchain technology can be very useful for increasing the efficiency of the financial system.

South Korea: Fighting against crime

The Bank of Korea's approach to crypto currency is to protect consumers. The organization seeks to prevent the use of digital money as a tool for unlawful activities. 

Bank for International Settlements: Cannot be ignored

"The central bank for central banks" believes that financial institutions cannot ignore the growing popularity of crypto-currencies, and many countries will probably have to think about issuing their own digital currencies at some point. "Bitcoin has ceased to be something mysterious and now everyone knows about it," says the bank's September statement. One of the possible options is a currency available to citizens, with the right to issue it granted to central banks. However, the risk of bankruptcy may be high, and commercial lenders may face a shortage of deposits. The bank is also worried about confidentiality of payments.