Strategists at a Wells Fargo subsidiary think the US could design and release a central bank digital currency (CBDC) within the next five years.
In a new report, Wells Fargo Advisors’ head of real asset strategy John LaForge and investment strategy analyst Mason Mendez say that the US is studying the potential of a CBDC after President Joe Biden signed an executive order authorizing the Federal Reserve to begin looking into CBDC technology.
“We suspect it will be some years before a US CBDC is designed, approved, and used. Our best guess would be three to five years. The release of FedNow, a new fast payments program (not a blockchain-related technology) launched in July 2023, might give us some clues on the timeline, though.
The Fed formally started studying the potential of FedNow in September 2013 – nearly 10 years before its release. While we are not expecting a CBDC release to take 10 years, we do believe it could be a few more years before a final design is reached.”
The Wells Fargo Advisors’ analysts say that debate over a potential US CBDC will only continue to increase.
“CBDCs are programmable, which means that they have the potential to be tracked, monitored, and shut down by authorities. “Potential” is the operative word, as the technology is flexible and can be designed to be privacy-friendly, too.
While clearly no formal CBDC design has been set, many elected officials have begun to voice their concerns over personal privacy. This is the case with many Presidential candidates, too, so expect to hear the term CBDC regularly with the 2024 election approaching.”
On whether the world’s largest economy needs a CBDC, the two Wells Fargo Advisors’ analysts say,
“In our view, a strong case has yet to be made that Americans ‘need’ a CBDC. Central authorities, such as the Fed and Treasury, could certainly benefit from traceable money. CBDCs could give them valuable insights into not only the American economy but the global economy, too, with the US dollar as the world’s reserve currency. Better monetary intelligence for central planners, however, must be weighed against the potential loss of individual privacies in a country founded on individual rights.”