There’s a ferment brewing with regard to central bank digital currencies (CBDCs), and most people really don’t know what to expect. Varied effects seem to be bubbling up in different parts of the world.
Consider: China’s e-CNY has already been used by 200 million-plus of its citizens and a full rollout could happen as early as February — but will a digital yuan gain traction internationally? Europe’s central bank has been exploring a digital euro for several years, and the European Union could introduce a digital euro bill in 2023. But, will it come with limitations, such as a ceiling on digital euros that can be held by a single party? A United States digital dollar could be the most awaited government digital currency given that the USD is the world’s reserve currency, but when will it appear, if ever? Implementation could be at least five years away.
Amid all this uncertainty, one question has persisted, at least in the cryptoverse: What impact will large-economy digital currencies have on stablecoins? Would it leave them any oxygen to breathe?
On the positive side, some believe that most large-scale CBDCs will go the wholesale route, i.e., allowing direct access to digital money by a limited number of large financial institutions. If so, could this leave a “retail piece” for stablecoins in the payments sector?
“Their wallets or accounts might be held by intermediaries like commercial banks, who then have claims on the central bank. But effectively, most CBDCs will be used for retail payments,” Gerard DiPippo, senior fellow at the Center for Strategic & International Studies, told Cointelegraph: “This includes China’s e-CNY, which many believe will be the first large-economy CBDC to be rolled out at scale.”
“While it’s still early to make a call, I would expect that CBDCs will be accessible by both retail and wholesale parties,” Arvin Abraham, a United Kingdom-based partner at law firm McDermott Will and Emery, told Cointelegraph, adding that:
“Governments have a competitive imperative to allow for retail use of CBDCs to keep their currencies relevant in a world with stablecoins and other cryptocurrencies that are increasingly being accepted as means of payment.”
A competition for users?
Assuming, then, a retail contest arises between stablecoins and CBDCs, which is likely to prevail?
“The obvious advantage of stablecoins is that they exist or are at least further along than most CBDCs. This is especially true in the…