Report: 70% of Central Banks are Studying Digital Currencies

Approximately 70% of the banks surveyed by the Bank for International Settlements (BIS) said they have already started working on a central bank digital currency (CBDC) or they are considering the development of their own virtual currency.

50% Of Banks Surveyed Have Moved To "Proof-of Concept" Stage

The Bank for International Settlements (BIS) is an institution owned by major central banks worldwide and it focuses on providing improved “international monetary and financial cooperation.” There were reportedly a total of 63 banks that participated in BIS’ survey and these institutions represented jurisdictions covering over 80% of the world’s population. The banks responding to the survey account for over 90% of the global economic output.

As mentioned in a report published by BIS, the financial institution’s survey involved conducting conceptual research on the process of creating CBDCs. Several banks worked cooperatively to develop a “common understanding of this new field of study.” Around half, or 50%, of the respondents have now moved to “hands-on” proof-of-concept activities to determine the feasibility and desirability of introducing a CBDC.

IMF Head: CBDCs Are "Safe" And "Cheap"

85% of the banks surveyed by BIS said it is unlikely that they’ll issue their own virtual currency in the short-term, or the next 1-3 years.

As CryptoGlobe reported in mid-November 2018, Christine Lagarde, the head of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), had recommended that all financial insitutitions should consider launching their own digital currency. Lagarde believes blockchain-based currencies are “safe, cheap, and potentially semi-anonymous” and would help in “supplying money to the digital economy.

However, there are many other senior banking and traditional financial market professionals worldwide who think that both CBDCs and decentralized cryptocurrencies may not be beneficial to the world’s financial system. In September 2018, the European Central Bank (ECB) had clarified it was not planning to launch its own CBDC.

Uruguay And Sweden Have Reported Making Considerable Progress In Developing CBDC

As pointed out by the research group at the St. Louis Fed (in December 2018): 

Once you add a central bank and remove the “permissionless” network—with nodes that can leave and join as they wish, there isn’t much left to the cryptocurrency you started with.

Despite concerns regarding whether they’re appropriate for a centrally managed financial system, some central banks are still considering exploring the idea of a CBDC. The BIS report revealed that Uruguay’s central bank had been testing out a general purpose CBDC.

Notably, the BIS research report also mentioned that Uruguay and Sweden had made considerable progress in creating their own CBDC and they had also publicly shared most of their findings in order to help banks in other countries.

Russia Will Not Legalize Facebook's Libra Says Top Official

A top Moscow official has said that Facebook's planned new cryptocurrency Libra will not be legalized Russia, according to a report this week from Russia's state-run news agency TASS.

Anatoly Aksakov, Chairman of the State Duma Committee on Financial Markets, said Russia would not legalise the Libra stablecoin, due for launch next year, as it may pose a threat to the country's financial system.

No Russian Liberty for Libra

While Aksakov acknowledged Russians would be able to buy Libra on international cryptocurrency exchange platforms, he warned that the creation of any domestic mechanisms of exchange would be limited, or even prohibited.

TASS quoted Aksakov as saying:

With regard to the use of Facebook cryptocurrency as a payment instrument in Russia at this stage - my opinion is that in our country it will be banned.

He added that in Russia there were no plans to adopt legislation that "gives space for active use of crypto-tools created in the framework of open platforms and blockchains" that may pose a threat to Russia's financial system.

International Ministers Speak Out

Aksakov is not the first financial minister to express concerns over Facebook's cryptocurrency plans and their potential to damage sovereign currency markets and financial stability.

On Tuesday, French economy minister Bruno Le Maire, said that global governments must ask Facebook for "guarantees" that Libra will not be aimed as a disruptive force against sovereign currencies.

Facebook's plans have US government and regulatory officials so rattled that a Senate hearing by the Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs Committee has been scheduled for July 16. The government has asked Facebook to halt work on the project until the hearings have been held.

Sherrod Brown, senior Senator for Ohio and the Democratic Party's ranking member of the Senate Banking Committee, said on his Twitter feed on Tuesday: "Facebook is already too big and too powerful, and it has used that power to exploit users’ data without protecting their privacy. We cannot allow Facebook to run a risky new cryptocurrency out of a Swiss bank account without oversight."

While Aksakov has major concerns about the growth of the cryptocurrency sector, Deputy Finance Minister Alexei Moiseev said on Wednesday that the Russian government was set to adopt the country's crypto bill "On Digital Financial Assets" in the next two weeks.