Digital Currencies

Digital Currencies

Central Bank and Fiat currency

One of the main responsibilities of a central bank is to make available sufficient money in the economy as long as there is a demand for it. The central bank issues money in paper or polymer form which is the legal tender in the respective country which is normally called as fiat currency. The value of the currency is totally based on the economic activity and the economic strength of the sovereign state.

Normal form of the currency eco system is as follows

Digital Transformation

With the evolution of technology and advancement in the field of digital fintech solutions and the transformational cum radical utility requirements from the users has changed the landscape of the currency eco system which was completely controlled by the central banks of respective countries.

Larger participation from payment service providers and stored value issuers in the currency cum commerce ecosystem has changed the shape & reach of the system from currency centric to value centric eco system. The users have started utilising the fiat currency through digital platforms and started to store values in private wallets for subsequent/ immediate usage. But still an acquiring bank or a settlement bank is a must. Then comes the Digital currency.

Digital Currency

Fiat currency centric transactions are inherently prone to state sponsored exchange rate control measures as the mighty sovereigns will continue to use the monetary policy to artificially control the exchange rate to protect the economic interest of the state which is the ultimate thread of universal trade. This has given rise to different classes of currencies such as mighty currencies and weak currencies which is based on the relative strength of a particular sovereign state. The relative strength of the currency is akin to the relative comprehensive strength of the state which issues the currency. The currency can be s used as a tool to push economic ambitions of any state which has the economic might to do so.

One users’ loss is other users gain and it was always unjust looking from a human angle of equality of effort such as effort of one human group in 8000-mile East should be considered equal in value terms with the same effort of human group in 8000 miles West. But in reality, Historical dominance of a mighty state will come into play when come to real time valuation of an effort by an individual who wish to engage in an international exchange. The technology has come out with a decent solution to this particular situation in the form of DIGITAL Currency.

Reality of Private Currencies

Many factors have played pivotal roles to give life to encrypted, decentralised block chain technology architectures driven and token-based currencies from private players into the currency domain which was for the known history of human kind was issued and controlled by sovereign countries. They are normally addressed as crypto currencies.

Some of the factors are

  1. a) the utility of digital transactions
  2. b) advancement in the field of technology,
  3. c) large penetration of internet & exponential growth in portable device-based internet users.

The private value wallet and vault is a reality now to store crypto assets.

But is it safe?

Nobody knows until it is widely used as a substitute for fiat currency. Following was experienced in the crypto currency domain till date

  1. Highly volatile in value. It is based on block chain technology and decentralised ledgers. A token is issued to the users and its value is determined by the demand and supply of the token in the platform. It is definitely independent of sovereign states decisions but all the major crypto currencies in the past have been super volatile.
  2. Mining of crypto currency is time consuming and highly demanding to be fast and in time. It requires lots of electricity due to the high-end devices and technology used by the miners.
  3. Adhoc fixing of total number of crypto currencies to 21 million or any other number. Majority of the Common users has no idea why it is so fixed? and who decided it? and what is the real reason for it? There could be a reason for everything but its is largely unknown to common users of crypto.
  4. Many users in the platform are largely traders and they consider the crypto currency as a commodity for speculative trade.
  5. Restricted conversion into fiat currencies and it is not even partially convertible freely.
  6. There is no central issuer of crypto currencies
  7. No sovereign has accepted crypto currency as a legal tender except El Salvador a central American state with a population of 6.5 million.
  8. Chances of Risk of mimicking the token by internet hackers and loss of value. In case of legal tender fiat currency and loss of money in banking channels, the users have at least one entity to lodge the complaint but in this scenario, there is no central organisation to complain and try to retrieve the lost money.
  9. It completely by pass the monetary channels & system of the sovereign states and users can freely transfer value and enter into transactions. Is it a demerit? No one knows unless until it is declared so by the sovereign.

Having painted all the points, we have to accept a fact that the private crypto currencies are here and it will stay there until it is asked to shut business.

Among all the shrouded comments about crypto currencies, the following is widely used by the naysayers “The users are participating largely out of curiosity and speculation and definitely not fully understanding what is crypto currencies are and its underlying technology. “

Why these comments are aired at loud at least from some corners of the world?

We believe that one reason for this can be, as no user has convincingly answered a question that, what is the real utility difference of digital crypto currency and fiat currencies in digital platform?

What can be the real utility difference?  Please do not the put the below reasons in support of crypto

  1. a) Free from exchange rate fluctuations and inflations
  2. b) Free from sovereign control. Etc. etc….

If these cannot be the utility difference of crypto currency and fiat currency in digital platforms, what can be a difference? We have to look into what the user is actually seeking in a crypto currency.

What is the feature a user is actually seeking from a crypto?

Are you looking for the digital utility of a currency to be stored and exchanged for any transactions? Then you already have fiat currencies in digital platforms. We fully understand the full feature of a crypto currency but for the time being, we are looking only for the contemporary utility of crypto currency vis a vis to fiat currency in digital platforms.

Of course, the users will find a reason to love and doubters will find a reason to hate crypto, whether you agree or not, crypto currencies are here and it is useful to public. Now, how will the Central banks respond to it is more interesting to know….

Central Bank Digital Currency (CBDC)

Before jumping into CBDC, let’s talk about online utility payments, eCommerce, e-wallet, and stored value facilities.

Initially, with the emergence of fintech platforms, users have started doing e-commerce and online payments widely. They were largely dependent on the account bank and their online platforms. This was partly due to the requirement of account settlement with the counterparties in fiat currencies (which is still very much there) and the absence of many payment service providers. The value stored in their bank accounts was used to transfer and transact online.   Then with the advancement of technology more payment service providers came into the arena with web-based and portable device-based applications to transact and transfer value for various needs.

With this, the traditional banks lost payment bank tag and business, they remain as the account & settlement institutions and Lending institutions. Everyone was caught unaware when the digital wallets came into force and payment service providers and stored value issuers joined hands to offer to buy now pay later utility (BNPL) to the users without any interest payment for the usage of money. It is slowly taking away micro-credit from the banks. This utility is increasing the economic activity without additional cost burden and it is growing exponentially.

Banks started to lose another tag and business from being an omnipresent & omnipotent PAYMENT CUM SETTLEMENT CUM LENDING INSTITUTIONS, they lost payment services and then started losing lending business to the fintech based cost-effective platforms. The only area which was untouched was the settlement institution tag and business.

Private wallets and private digital currencies will take away this business also if allowed to be flourished and people started using crypto currencies akin to legal tender fiat currencies. Settlement institutions are not at all required in the new ball game.

The banks have to look up to the central bank to intervene which has intervened in many a times in the past such as coming with a) unified payment cum recognition solution and allowing fellow participating banks to be part of the settlement mechanism where payment service providers are categorized as App-based interface only b) Seamless integration with core banking solutions to speed up the Realtime settlement which is the inherent feature of any fintech private platforms etc.

How will the central bank respond in such a situation where private wallets and private currencies are offering real-time value settlement bypassing all the conventional banking routes.

Will the central bank ban this utility? of course not, since it is bringing in rich economic benefit to the state. The central banks have started to brainstorm about the possibility of issuing their own sovereign digital currency.

CBDC (Central Bank Digital currency) is nothing but the fiat currency issued in digital form and it’s completely different from the fiat currency traded through digital platforms. Few possible features of CBDC can be

  1. Programmable in nature: – The digital legal lender can be programmed to restrict the usage to one particular purpose. It is highly likely in states where the state subsidizes a variety of requirements of many sections of the society. It will guarantee no leakage. It can be programmed to expire within a certain period of time and it will increase the spending hence economic activity.
  2. The sovereign will have absolute control over the money flow and it can use technology as a means to create barriers for money flow and hence influence the exchange rate.
  3. Settlement banks will be a reality for life to the users and the value will be stored in the account bank. All the other players will be intermediaries for trade and final settlement in one particular currency has to be ultimately done with the settlement and account bank.
  4. It has all the risks which typical technology-driven and technology-run digital platforms possess. It is totally based on network-centric real-time processors and internet connections, which will be a humongous task for a population-rich emerging market state.

It is a disruptive technology and how it will impact those economies which are currently dependent on cash transactions for smaller denominations and bank instrument-based transactions for high-value transactions are yet to be analyzed.

Currently, all the central banks are working towards a phased implementation strategy and examining use cases that could be implemented with little or no disruption. As per the recent Reserve bank of India (RBI) presentation on the topic “Central Bank Digital Currency – Is This the Future of Money” dated 22.07.2021 below issues are pointed out.


  • the scope of CBDCs – whether they should be used in retail payments or also in wholesale payments;
  • the underlying technology – whether it should be a distributed ledger or a centralized ledger, for instance, and whether the choice of technology should vary according to use cases;
  • the validation mechanism – whether token-based or account-based,
  • distribution architecture – whether direct issuance by the RBI or through banks;
  • degree of anonymity etc.


However, conducting pilots in wholesale and retail segments may be a possibility in near future.


Few examples of such initiatives are:

  1. Digital Yuan by the Chines central bank where the digital currency came with an expiry date which has to spend within a stipulated period of time. This has created compulsive buying.
  2. E RUPI by GOI: – Even though it is not completely a digital rupee, rather it is an e-voucher that is based on SMS strings where the Govt. will pass on redeemable vouchers to the mobile number linked to the unified identification platform such as Aadhar. The users can redeem it for the intended purpose but only for the intended purpose.


Digital inclusiveness and Real-time processing are here to stay and like the new age, private players sovereign will allow other traditional players to be part of the game by changing the turf altogether. A digital currency issued by the sovereign state based on the strength of the state is a certain reality in the future and it will have all the major traditional features of present fiat currencies and it can be used in all the modes and utilities a private cryptocurrency can be used.

Final words, “Absorb technology, respect rule of law else get dwarfed and eventually get extinct.”


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