The Federal Reserve Is Experimenting With a Digital Dollar

The U.S. Federal Reserve is actively investigating distributed ledger technologies and how they might be used for digitizing the dollar.

Federal Reserve Board Governor Lael Brainard said the U.S. central bank has been testing DLT over the past several years to study what a digital currency might do to the existing payments ecosystem, monetary policy, financial stability and the banking sector.

“With these important issues in mind, the Federal Reserve is active in conducting research and experimentation related to distributed ledger technologies and the potential use cases for digital currencies,” Brainard said Thursday at the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco’s Innovation Office Hours.

Read more: Senate Banking Committee Remains Open to Idea of Digital Dollar in Tuesday’s Hearing

Brainard cited the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic as one issue that reinforced the need for “immediate and trusted access to funds,” noting that recipients of emergency stimulus funds spent them quickly, indicating they urgently needed access.

“The COVID-19 crisis is a dramatic reminder of the importance of a resilient and trusted payments infrastructure that is accessible to all Americans,” she said. “It was notable that after a sharp reduction in spending early in the COVID-19 crisis, many households increased their spending starting on the day they received emergency relief payments.”

The idea of a digital dollar as a tool to distribute emergency stimulus funds is not new.Congress has been kicking the idea around since at least March. However, no concrete public efforts have been made to create a blockchain-based central bank digital currency in the U.S.

Experimentation

U.S. lawmakers have asked Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell about the potential benefits to a digital dollar in the past. The regulator said last November that the central bank is “carefully analyzing” the potential benefits as well as the costs.

At the time, Powell said the Fed was not…

Read More