IBM/OMFIF Report On Central Bank Digital Currencies

Recently, I ran across this web page describing a report issued jointly by IBM and the OMFIF last fall (September 2018). This blog article will feature this report in some detail because it is a pretty comprehensive summary of where things stand in terms of central banks looking into using central bank digital currencies (CBDC's). 

I obtained a copy of the full report by providing a name and email address so I assume anyone can do the same if they want a copy of the report. Since they ask for that information to receive the report, I won't provide a direct link to the pdf version of the report, but will extract a few excerpts below for some analysis and comments. 

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Below I have pulled out a few excerpts from the report to give you a feel for it. The report is laid out in six main sections. Below I excerpted a comment from the summary of each of the six sections with my analysis (if any) just below the excerpt. Below that I tried to list some bullet point observations from the report. One point of interest to me is that on page 22 of the report, we find these comments under the title "Digital Tokens as Reserves" (I added underlines for emphasis).

Digital tokens as reserves 

(from page 22 of the IBM/OMFIF report):

"The impact on monetary policy would further depend on whether the digital tokens in question have the status of reserves. As one respondent put it, "If these tokens are considered as reserves, and the blockchain system is a new medium for recording transactions, then there should be no impact on monetary policy, and the existing tools may continue to be used.’ Around 80% of survey respondents shared this opinion. 

In today’s system, the International Monetary Fund’s aspiration for its special drawing right to become a global reserve currency has been held back by conflicting geopolitical interests and priorities of the reserve-issuing central banks of the US, euro area, China, Japan and UK. CBDCs can circumvent such hurdles by enabling the private sector to work directly with the central banks to create a digital SDR to use as a unit of account and store of value

Such an e-SDR would be the quintessential reserve asset, because it would be fully backed by the reserve currencies in the IMF- determined ratio. The supply of e-SDRs would in turn be dependent on market demand. This would require the creation of a sufficiently large e-SDR-denominated money market."

Readers here may recall that this concept is one we have mentioned here before quite some time ago, so it's interesting to me to see it talked about in this report. The report does not say that the IMF is currently testing an "e-SDR" (see further comments below). Also, it's interesting to note that the report says "the supply of e-SDR's would be dependent on market demand". This fits in with the currency board rules proposal of former IMF Dr. Warren Coats that we recently covered here that issues currency based on market demand.

Now lets look at some excerpts from the six major sections of the report.

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