A global survey on Central Bank Digital Currencies (CBDC) released by the CFA Institute, the global association of investment professionals, examines the possible implications for capital markets and investment practitioners if central banks develop and launch digital versions of fiat currencies.
A plurality of 42% of respondents believe that central banks should launch CBDCs, while 34% disagreed. Only 13% said they had a strong understanding of CBDCs.
In all markets, the top reason cited to support launching a CBDC was to accelerate payments and transfers, with the chief concerns being focused on three issues: cybersecurity and fraud, data privacy, and lack of use cases.
Globally, a majority of respondents believe that CBDCs can coexist with private cryptocurrencies, which points to some dichotomy in results.
While a large majority agrees that public trust in fiat money is suffering because of monetary policy, a solid majority also believes that private money will always be inferior to government money.
“Acceptance by end-users will be critical for any central bank digital currency. Although central banks have solicited public comment on various consultation documents, much remains unknown about the public’s understanding of, interest in, and demand for CBDCs,” says Olivier Fines, CFA, Head, EMEA Advocacy, CFA Institute comments.
“While many of the current studies on CBDCs focus on the preferences of central banks promoting of digital currencies our survey explores the demand side of this debate.”
“Perhaps the biggest finding from our survey was the difference in attitudes between emerging and developed economies,” continues Stephen Deane, Senior Director for Capital Markets Policy.
“Respondents in emerging markets were more receptive to CBDCs and believed the digital currencies would enhance financial inclusion. Respondents in advanced economies, in contrast, were generally more satisfied with the current financial infrastructure and more sceptical of the need for a CBDC.
Another major finding was that public opinion remains largely a blank slate. That gives an opening to any central banks that may wish to promote public support and demand for CBDCs.”
The survey brings together the views of the professional investment community, offering a valuable insight into some of the challenges faced by central banks, notably:
- Developing markets, the Asia-Pacific region, and individual countries such as India and China present a more favorable view of CBDCs.
- Respondents in developing markets place greater emphasis on financial inclusion.
- Public acceptance of a CBDC is not assured.
- To a large extent, public opinion remains an empty slate, presenting opportunity for central banks to build public support.
- A majority believes that CBDCs can coexist with private cryptocurrencies, but also that private money will always be inferior.
- Central banks need to address three top public concerns: cybersecurity, privacy, and the search for actual use cases.
- Central banks should consult with the private sector to better understand the demand side of the debate on CBDC development.
Key questions remain on how implementation and adoption might work, how a CBDC might be used relative to other payment instruments, and how market structure and financial stability might be impacted. There is much more work to do before the successful adoption of CBDCs.