3 of the 5 Digital Dollar Pilot Programs Launching in Next Two Months

“It’s vital that the U.S. asserts leadership as it has in previous technological innovations,” says former CFTC chair Christopher Giancarlo.

The US non-profit Digital Dollar Project is launching five pilot programs over the next 12 months to test the potential of a central bank digital currency (CBDC) in the country.

Three of the pilot programs will be launched in the next two months, complementing Federal Reserve’s MIT project. The data generated on the benefits, functional, business, and sociological uses of a digital dollar will be released publicly.

Initially, the private-sector pilots will be funded by Accenture Plc and involve financial firms, retailers and NGOs, and others. Last year, Accenture partnered with the Digital Dollar Foundation for the Digital Dollar project.

“It’s not a panacea for all money,” said David Treat, a senior managing director at Accenture. “We will be using physical cash and coin for some time.”

The pilots aim to generate data to help US policymakers develop a digital dollar.

“There are conferences and papers coming out every week around the world on CBDCs based on data from other countries,” said Christopher Giancarlo, former chair of the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) and co-founder of the Digital Dollar Foundation. He added,

“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.”

Central banks around the world are working on their own CBDCs, with China leading this race, having run several pilots already. Meanwhile, the US is taking a cautious approach, with Fed Chair Jerome Powell saying that it is “far more important” to get it right than be fast.

While Powell was correct to be cautious with China pushing ahead, the US needs to drive a discussion in incorporating privacy into the development of CBDCs, said Giancarlo.

“It’s vital that the U.S. asserts leadership as it has in previous technological innovations,” Giancarlo added.

He said a digital dollar could also boost financial inclusion in the country in areas where fees hinder access to mainstream financial services.

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