Fed. Reserve pushes back on claims that FedNow system is equivalent to a central banking system

The following is an excerpt from The Defender.

The Federal Reserve wants everyone to know that its new FedNow instant digital payments system, which it plans to roll out in July, is not a central bank digital currency (CBDC).

“The FedNow Service is neither a form of currency nor a step toward eliminating any form of payment, including cash,” the U.S. central banking system said in recently updated statement on its website.

Last week, the Cato InstituteAssociated Press and Yahoo all followed with articles echoing the Fed’s position — FedNow is “not a central banking digital currency,” with the articles dedicated to “fact-checking” the assertion.

After reports about FedNow started circulating in November 2022, and after the Fed’s March announcement that the system would launch this summer, bankers, crypto experts and people concerned with personal financial autonomylashed out, arguing that the system is a step toward a CBDC, or at least toward government control over the financial system.

A CBDC is a government-backed digital currency issued by a central bank — a purely digital form of money, promoted as a tool that could make transactions easy between individuals, companies and the state.

But such centrally controlled digital money is also programmable. It could be set to expire at a given time, or restricted to particular kinds of spending — and all transactions would be trackable by the federal government.

The FedNow digital payments system is not a currency, like a CBDC, but it does make instant and trackable digital payments possible.

The Biden administration last March issued an executive order giving the “highest priority” to investigating a CBDC for the U.S.

Earlier this year, Fed Chair Jerome Powell told the House Financial Services Committee a decision on CBDCs hadn’t been made. But, he said, “We’ll have real-time payments in this country very, very soon.”

Some have speculated that FedNow’s ability to make real-time transactions is a way for the Fed to provide key benefits of a CBDC without actually creating one.

Read more here.

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