New analysis shows over 90% of global economy exploring a central bank digital currency
WASHINGTON, DC – July 22, 2021 – The Atlantic Council’s GeoEconomics Center today launched a state-of-the-art Central Bank Digital Currency (CBDC) Tracker, offering an unprecedented global look at the adoption of digital currency. The original version of the tracker– launched in April 2020– has been used by the Federal Reserve, the Bank of International Settlements, and news outlets across the world to help understand the decisions countries are making in this rapidly advancing space.
The new interactive database released today features 81 countries, more than double the number of countries the GeoEconomics Center identified as being active in CBDC development in 2020.
China has been charging ahead in its development of its own digital currency. As of June 2021, the People’s Bank of China (PBOC) announced that nearly 21 million personal and 3.51 million corporate digital yuan wallets had been opened. Aiming for broad circulation in 2022, the PBOC and the Hong Kong Monetary Authority last week announced plans to test the digital yuan with foreign visitors ahead of the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics.
In the United States, the Federal Reserve remains sluggish in its progress. Of the four largest central banks in the world (the Federal Reserve, the European Central Bank, the Bank of Japan, and the Bank of England), the Federal Reserve is the only one to not commit to a digital currency test project.
Other key findings show that as of July 1, five countries have fully launched CBDCs, with the Bahamas being the first nation to reach wide distribution. Of the remaining 76 countries, 33 are in research, 15 in development, and 14 in pilot stage, including major economies like Sweden and South Korea.
“Before Covid, central bank digital currencies were largely a theoretical exercise. But with the need to distribute unprecedented monetary and fiscal stimulus around the world, combined with the rise of cryptocurrencies, central banks have quickly realized they cannot let the evolution of money pass them by,” said Josh Lipsky, Director of the GeoEconomics Center and former Senior Advisor at the IMF.
Before Covid, central bank digital currencies were largely a theoretical exercise. But with the need to distribute unprecedented monetary and fiscal stimulus around the world, combined with the rise of cryptocurrencies, central banks have quickly realized they cannot let the evolution of money pass them by.”
In addition to tracking individual country progress, the database shows the specific technology and security choices countries are making in their CBDC designs. This research suggests that without standards and international coordination the financial system may be headed for a significant currency interoperability problem in the future.
Launched in 2020, the Atlantic Council’s GeoEconomics Center is organized around three pillars: the Future of Capitalism, the Future of Money, and the Economic Statecraft Initiative. The Center focuses on impactful data visualization projects and has a proven track record of internationally recognized work. In the past several months, the Center produced major reports on the dramatic changes in global monetary policy, and the shifting use of sanctions worldwide.
To view the new Central Bank Digital Currency Tracker, visit https://www.atlanticcouncil.org/cbdctracker/.