CBDCs – The Pied Piper
We all know the story: The Pied Piper has a magic flute that, when played by the piper, saves the people of Hamelin from a rat epidemic. When the townspeople fail to pay him for his services, he uses the flute to attract their children away.
In modern nomenclature, a pied piper is described as “a metaphor for a person who attracts a following through charisma or false promises.”
And that leads us to a discussion of Central Bank Digital Currencies, or CBDCs.
As recently as ten years ago, when writing on the possibility of digital currencies being introduced, the idea was so novel (or perhaps so abhorrent) that my predictions on the subject were considered to be fanciful. Yet, by 2016, announcements were being made by governments that digital currencies were “under consideration.”
And in the brief time since, the concept has caught on worldwide. Eleven countries have now launched them, and another eighty-seven are either researching them or developing them.
But why is it that bank depositors would accept the introduction of CBDCs?
Well, on paper, they sound great. No more trips to the ATM. No more need for credit cards. No more worrying about carrying around cash. No more purse snatchers – you can carry all your savings on a cell phone and do so safely. All crime could end, as any criminal would leave a trail of transactions for banks to monitor.
And these, of course, are the promises that are being touted by the latter-day Pied Piper – the “false promises” mentioned in the definition above.
So what’s the attraction for governments and bankers so eager to go digital?
Well, for bankers, the answer is that they’ll have the opportunity to phase out bank notes. Most activities on the retail floor will be outmoded. Since all transactions would be digital, they’ll all be performed by bank clerks on computers, without ever having to face customers. Additionally, depositors will no longer be able to store currency elsewhere. Depositors will be at the mercy of the banks, as they’ll no longer be able to make even the smallest transaction without passing it through the bank. This not only makes it possible for banks to rais
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