There has certainly been a lot of hype around Central Bank Digital Currencies (CBDCs). Among its notable proponents is China, who earlier this year introduced a homegrown digital currency across four cities as part of a pilot program, marking a milestone on the path toward the first electronic payment system by a major central bank. This was followed by one of the oldest banks in the world, the Bank of England, who signaled it would consider pursuing a CBDC.
So, does the trend for CBDCs pose a threat to established cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin? And what might the future hold? To begin answering this question, we must first understand its modern-day limitations.
Since the Bank of England’s foundation in 1694, the bank issued notes promising to pay the bearer a sum of money. For much of its history, it was entirely possible to take a Pound note to the bank and exchange it for gold, a scarce commodity with little physical utility. The gold provided the banknote with intrinsic value.
However, this link was broken by the British in 1931, and by the Americans in 1933 for its citizens. Today, the strength and dominance of fiat currency are based on nothing more than faith. Let’s take the USD, which since Bretton Woods, has rightly or wrongly, underpinned the modern financial system. It has value because we have faith in the United States’ economic and military strength, willingness to recover debts, and thus its ability to come good on its treasury bills.
As for Bitcoin, it has value because it is governed by an algorithm which means only 21 million Bitcoins can ever be mined. Once miners have unlocked all the Bitcoins, the planet’s supply will essentially be tapped out unless the protocol is changed to accommodate a larger supply. Therefore, Bitcoin’s value is intrinsically linked to the algorithm’s guarantee.
When it comes to CBDCs, some commentators warn its proliferation will become a threat to Bitcoin as…