The U.S. nonprofit Digital Dollar Project announced on Monday that it will launch 5 pilot programs in the coming 12 months to test the possible uses of a U.S. central bank digital currency, the first effort of its kind in the United States.
The private-sector pilots initially will be funded by Accenture Plc and involve, inter alia, financial firms, NGOs and retailers. The goal is to generate data that could help U.S. policymakers develop a digital dollar.
A partnership between the Digital Dollar Foundation and Accenture, the Digital Dollar Project was created last year to promote research into a U.S. central bank digital currency (CBDC).
Christopher Giancarlo, former chair of the Commodity Futures Trading Commission and co-founder of the Digital Dollar Foundation, said “there are conferences and papers coming out every week around the world on CBDCs based on data from other countries.”
“What there is not, is any real data and testing from the United States to inform that debate. We’re seeking to generate that real-world data,” Giancarlo added.
CBDCs are the digital equivalent of coins and banknotes, giving holders a direct digital claim on the central bank and allowing them to make instant e-payments.
While debit cards or payment apps are a form of digital cash, those transactions are created by commercial banks based on money central banks credit to those banks’ accounts. They are not fully government-backed, can take days to settle, and often incur fees. Cryptocurrencies, meanwhile, are controlled by private actors.
Central banks around the world, including in Europe and China, are revving up CBDC projects to fend off threats from cryptocurrencies and improve payment systems.