IMF head: CBDCs can replace cash, help financial inclusion

Regulation

During her opening speech at the Singapore FinTech Festival, International Monetary Fund (IMF) managing director Kristalina Georgieva urged the public sector to “keep preparing to deploy” central bank digital currencies (CBDCs) and related payment platforms in the future.

Georgieva expressed her optimism about the implementation of CBDCs worldwide but said, “We have not yet reached the land,” and there is still much uncertainty:

“Adoption of CBDCs is nowhere close. But about 60 percent of countries are exploring them in some form today.”

Georgieva believes CBDCs can replace cash, offer resilience in advanced economies and improve financial inclusion in underbanked communities. According to Georgieva, CBDCs can co-exist with “private money,” being its “safe and low-cost alternative.” 

Related: IMF director urges ‘financial inclusion’ via digitalization

Georgieva also highlighted the importance of technological infrastructure in CBDC projects, personal data protection and even the possible role of artificial intelligence (AI) in enhancing the national digital currencies. She put a particular emphasis on cross-border payment support:

“To the extent CBDCs are deployed, they must be built to facilitate cross-border payments, which are at present expensive, slow, and available to few. Again, we must start this work today so we don’t have to backpedal tomorrow.”

The IMF head presented the organization’s CBDC virtual handbook and noted the Bank for International Settlements (BIS) role in the public sector’s digital money experiments. 

The IMF has recently been active in its analysis of necessary crypto regulations. On Sept. 29, it proposed a crypto-risk assessment matrix for countries to spot indicators and triggers of potential risks in the sector.

The IMF’s Synthesis Paper — jointly prepared with the Financial Stability Board — was unanimously adopted by G20 finance ministers and central bank governors in October.

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