In this post I discuss several differences between physical cash, and what I imagine retail Central Bank Digital Currencies (CBDCs) might end up looking like. The main differences between CBDCs and cash are accessibility, anonymity, and interest.
Accessibility means “who can use it?”. Pretty much anyone can use cash.
Anonymity describes how much information about the payer and recipient’s identity is needed to make a transaction. Cash doesn’t require the payer or recipient to provide any identity information.
Interest describes how much the number goes up if you leave it sitting in its natural state without lending it to anyone. Physical cash does not have interest.
Last December I was approached by a publisher, Mango, who asked me if I would write a book about blockchain technology. A little nervously, I agreed, and I’m excited to announce the result of six months of effort:
The Basics of Bitcoins and Blockchains is an essential guide for anyone who needs to learn about cryptocurrencies, ICOs, and business blockchains. Written in plain English, it provides a balanced and hype-free grounding in the essential concepts behind the revolutionary technology.
I wrote The Basics for an audience of business people, students, practitioners, and those who are simply interested in this technology. I tried to make it entertaining even for those who are already working in the cryptocurrency or blockchain industry. For example, did you know:
I’m absolutely thrilled to be able to write about the open sourcing of Project Ubin Phase II, a key project that our team has been working on for the past seven months with the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS), ten banks, and our partnerAccenture.
What is Project Ubin? It’s probably the most advanced starter kit out there for anyone wanting to explore blockchains for banking:
Over the past couple of years, R3 has worked closely with a number of central banks to explore if distributed ledgers could support their policy goals, and I have had the privilege to participate in a number of these projects.
What have we learnt? What is important? What do central banks care about? While I can’t speak directly for individual organisations, I have collated my own thoughts, and wanted to share these ahead of the Singapore FinTech Festival this year (13-17 Nov) when the results of Singapore’s “Project Ubin” experiments will be announced.
How do banks pay each other? In most countries, when banks want to transfer money to each other, perhaps upon instruction from a customer, they don’t put bundles of banknotes in vans, they pay each other digitally. How does this work?
This post is intended as a primer about payment systems and explains correspondent banking, nostros, real time gross settlement (RTGS) systems and deferred net settlement (DNS) systems. It supports other posts where I discuss decentralisation of these systems using distributed ledgers.