At the close of the Bank of England's consultation on the Digital Pound Barry interviews Danny Kruger MP, of the UK Parliament's Treasury Select Committee, who oversee the project, discussed the deep implications of central bank digital currencies (CBDCs) on financial stability and liberty.
While Danny expressed concerns about the potential negative effects, he acknowledged that he and his colleagues on the Treasury Select Committee were not experts on the topic and that there was a general perception that CBDCs were a natural evolution of the digital revolution.
Barry and Danny discussed the need for serious consideration at the legislative level regarding the introduction of a digital pound, as it could have implications for financial and economic stability. They also expressed concern about the lack of public engagement from the Bank of England's consultation and emphasized the importance of government and parliament's role in making decisions about the use of a digital pound.
Danny and Barry discussed the potential risks and dangers of a Central Bank Digital Currency (CBDC). They also discussed the need for greater attention and a new institution to ensure transparency and accountability in the use of CBDCs - the potential benefits of a digital money commissioner, with Danny saying "Yes, I do. I think that is a good suggestion, a digital commissioner of some sort"
Danny congratulated Barry on raising the debate and they talked about working together to continue raising the debate towards creating the needed structures and safeguards for the future.
"China is going full ahead. That in itself should cause us to pause and think about what we're doing."
Q. James: “This seems to me something akin to rewriting part of a constitution, in the sense that it will live with us for generations to come. Do you feel that the Treasury Select Committee is… replete [with all it needs]? Kruger: No, not to approach the topic in that sense. No, definitely not. Nor should it be. I mean, if it's a constitutional question, that's not for the Treasury Select Committee. They're particularly focused on the Treasury's remit, which is to grow the economy, and to maintain stability and so on.”
"We need to remain at the cutting edge of financial technology and market developments [but…] “The UK should not adopt a digital currency simply because other nations are doing so."
"The case for a retail CBDC, in answer to your question, I don’t think has yet been made. It does have the sense of a solution looking for a problem."
“There's a financial stability question. And then the other [that’s] more obvious and pertinent is liberty. What does it mean for you and me if we are being encouraged, or at what points does it become required, to hold our wealth in this new form? And what powers does government have to oversee these transactions?
“Obviously they [governments] make a strong case that they wouldn't assume that power. But once the technology exists you can see the way that a crisis comes along, as it did for the Canadian government when they were besieged in Ottawa by a lot of angry anti-COVID truckers, they reach for the levers that are available to them.”
These technical, technological, innovations are not neutral… By creating the thing, you put the country on a path to making use of it… But fundamentally it'll be for Parliament, not even government, [to decide] because Parliament would have to pass legislation for this… and I worry that we don't have the political culture and that we're not asking the right questions at the moment to ensure that that's what happens.
“You also need distribution and individual liberty. And it might be that, as you suggest, some sort of statutory commissioner who has some meaningful sort of agency in the world of information and financial information could be the necessary stabilising influence [providing] the sense of security that the system needs so we can have a more genuinely distributed arrangement whereby people might well be holding their wealth in these innovative different forms”
They said to us the introduction of a digital pound will not, in itself, increase the reduction in the use of cash when, of course, it will. It's unthinkable that it wouldn't. This will further squeeze cash out of the system. "It's unthinkable that it wouldn't. This will further squeeze cash out of the system."