Thursday, February 20, 2020

OMFIF Report - Central Bank Currencies - A Question of Trust

I got an email from the OMFIF (Official Monetary and Financial Institutions Forum) based in London alerting me to new report they have issued. The report is a look at global public confidence in monetary, financial, and payment institutions as it relates to the potential issuance of central bank digital currencies. It is based on a global public opinion survey poll.

Below I have pasted in the Executive Summary for this new report. I believe readers can access the full report here by providing an email address. I was able to do so by providing one. This is an interesting new look at who the public might most trust in the future for the issuance of "digital currencies". I would encourage readers to download the full report.

Executive Summary

Central Banks in Pole Position to Issue Digital Currency

"DIGITAL payments are proliferating worldwide and are proving increasingly popular. In China, the mobile payments market is worth $5.7tn and is dominated by two behemoths, Alipay and WeChat Pay. Facebook wants to launch Libra, a global digital currency, later this year, a move which has prompted wider discussion about central bank digital currencies. 

While the rise in digital payments is global, different regions have disparate needs. In advanced economies, services such as FedNow in the US and Faster Payments in the UK are evolving to meet the need for faster back-end payment solutions which can underpin retail payments. In emerging markets, the surge in mobile payments makes it much easier for workers to send remittances home to their families.

These changes in consumer behaviour and the surrounding policy debate make this the ideal time to present this OMFIF report, which centres on the findings of a global opinion poll on public trust in monetary institutions, payment characteristics and digital currency. The poll was conducted by Ipsos MORI across 13 advanced and emerging countries.

Our findings suggest that central banks are well-positioned to issue digital currency. In almost all countries, respondents indicated that they would feel most confident in digital money issued by the domestic monetary authority. Respondents globally expressed a lack of confidence in digital money issued by a tech or credit card company, particularly respondents from advanced economies.

The survey reveals significant differences in attitudes depending on levels of income and education, age and nationality. High-income and young respondents express the most confidence in current and future digital money, and consider speed to be part of the appeal.

The results indicate that openness to digital offerings rises with income and education levels, but declines with age. When respondents are asked about their preferred ideal characteristics for a payment method, they are unanimous in citing safety from fraud and theft as the most important feature, across all countries. Speed is the least important characteristic, suggesting that digital money will have to improve its safety features if it is to be to adopted widely.

The findings suggest that cash remains king: it has the highest average score across all different payment characteristics posed to respondents, across most different income, education and age groups. Cash is particularly popular in some advanced markets, such as the US and Britain. Respondents in emerging markets show the greatest level of willingness to embrace digital currency in the future and are open to the question of who should issue it.

These findings should prove informative and useful for monetary policymakers and private sector practitioners alike. They provide the first clear, quantitative indication of which groups and markets are most amenable to digital currency, and can serve as guidelines for regulators, central bankers and those working in the private sector who want to market their digital offerings to a broader audience.

Added comment: Once again I would call your attention to the next to last paragraph posted above from the Executive Summary. While we continue to see predictions of a future "cashless society" in various media articles, every study or report I see from any kind of official organization always includes a comment about how important cash remains as a payment system. They also usually note that there is no expectation that cash will be removed from the system any time soon and most studies even point out a number of hardships that would result from total elimination of cash used for payments. I think it is important to emphasize that for readers here.

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