Launching a CBDC must follow a clear process, involve multiple stakeholders, and consider the wider social, political, economic, and structural context. The roadmap for implementing a CBDC given here will not be universally applicable, but is a helpful illustration of how implementation can work.
3-5 Years to launch a CBDC
Given that it took four years to launch the Sand Dollar, and at least several years to launch the e-Naira, we estimate that a timeframe of 3-5 years seems appropriate for emerging economies.
It will likely take much longer for a CBDC to be introduced in markets such as the Eurozone, US or UK. This timeline may be reduced significantly if off-the-shelf products that need little customisation (e.g. digital cash, digital money, digital ID, wallet), as well as the underlying infrastructure, are available.
During each phase it will be vital to both advance knowledge among key stakeholders on CBDCs, while also minimising the risk of triggering a banking crisis. We recommend conducting simulation and market research on economic design choices affecting CBDCs, including factors such as holding limits, reimbursement (interest and non-interest bearing), and guarantee mechanisms. It will also be important to test and analyse what mix of efficiency, convenience, privacy, and other features maximises the public interest, and test base assumptions about conditions that can affect public acceptance and adoption of digital currencies.
Resources required for CBDC
CBDCs require new infrastructure, entities, and regulation to be set up. It is a fundamental change for a country’s payments system. Governments need to allocate significant financial and human resources for such a program, and have a robust change management plan. Although no figures on how much was spent to establish active CBDCs such as the Bahamian Sand Dollar or Nigeria’s e-Naira are available, it is estimated that a single implementation could cost upwards of tens of millions of US dollars. This can be offset by the economic benefits and cost savings of a CBDC.
At nChain, we are working with central banks to research and design a truly more resilient, trusted and inclusive modern economy, securing the livelihoods and prosperity of citizens for generations to come.
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