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A new survey by the Bank for International Settlements (BIS) revealed that most central banks are exploring the issuance of digital currencies, known as CBDC. According to the survey, 94% of central banks are investigating the feasibility of launching their own digital currencies. This growing trend could transform the global economy in the coming years.

The study included 86 central banks from different regions and showed an increase in interest in CBDCs compared to previous years. In 2021, for example, a similar BIS survey indicated that 90% of central banks were considering this innovation. This increase reflects a shift in how central banks view digital currencies as part of their future strategies.

Furthermore, the results highlight that central banks are more inclined to issue wholesale CBDCs before retail-oriented versions. Wholesale CBDCs focus on financial institutions and banks, making transactions safer and more efficient in the financial system. In contrast, retail CBDCs would be accessible to the public for everyday transactions.

Among banks surveyed, the majority indicated they could launch a wholesale CBDC within six years. This preference is due, in part, to lower technical and regulatory challenges compared to retail CBDCs. After all, these require a more robust infrastructure to guarantee security and universal accessibility.

More countries interested in CBDC

BIS research also reveals that countries around the world are at different stages of developing their own CBDCs. China, for example, is at the forefront of this innovation, having already carried out several tests with the digital yuan. Other countries, such as Nigeria and the Bahamas, have also issued their own digital currencies, becoming pioneers in this new financial era.

The global interest in CBDCs has several reasons. One of them is the need to modernize payment systems, increase financial inclusion and combat the use of unregulated cryptocurrencies. BIS research noted that stablecoins, a type of cryptocurrency pegged to specific assets like the dollar or gold, are rarely used outside the crypto ecosystem. This indicates limited potential for stablecoins as a mainstream payment method. In this way, they reinforce the importance of CBDCs as a safer and more stable alternative.

Another point is that creating a retail CBDC involves several challenges. More than half of the central banks interviewed consider issues such as holding limits, interoperability, offline options and zero remuneration as critical aspects. These factors are essential to ensure the safe and efficient use of CBDCs by the general public.

Furthermore, interoperability between different payment systems is a significant concern. For CBDCs to be widely adopted, they need to be compatible with existing and future payment infrastructures. Offline options are also crucial, especially in regions where digital connectivity may be limited.

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