Digital Currency and Economic Crises: Helping States Respond

Publication Date
Systemic Risk Centre Special Papers SP 20
Publication Date
Financial Markets Group Special Papers SP 261
Publication Authors

The current crisis, at the time of writing, has had a profound impact on the financial world, introducing the need for creative approaches to revitalising the economy at the micro level as well as the macro level. In this informal analysis and design proposal, we describe how infrastructure for digital assets can serve as a useful monetary and fiscal policy tool and an enabler of existing tools in the future, particularly during crises, while aligning the trajectory of financial technology innovation toward a brighter future. We propose an approach to digital currency that would allow people without banking relationships to transact electronically and privately, including both internet purchases and point-of-sale purchases that are required to be cashless. We also propose an approach to digital currency that would allow for more efficient and transparent clearing and settlement, implementation of monetary and fiscal policy, and management of systemic risk. The digital currency could be implemented as central bank digital currency (CBDC), or it could be issued by the government and collateralised by public funds or Treasury assets. Our proposed architecture allows both manifestations and would be operated by banks and other money services businesses, operating within a framework overseen by government regulators. We argue that now is the time for action to undertake development of such a system, not only because of the current crisis but also in anticipation of future crises resulting from geopolitical risks, the continued globalisation of the digital economy, and the changing value and risks that technology brings.