IMF director warns against retail e-currencies

Oluwanifemi Ojo
Oluwanifemi Ojo
International Monetary Fund

The Managing Director of the International Monetary Fund, Kristalina Georgieva, has expressed her concerns about the potential risks associated with retail central bank digital currencies.

In an interview at the Milken Institute’s 2023 Global Conference on May 1, Georgieva stated that retail CBDCs could have far more room for error than wholesale CBDCs. She explained that wholesale CBDCs are less risky as they are designed to allow financial institutions to carry reserve deposits with a central bank.

As stated in a Cointelegraph report, retail CBDCs are virtual currencies backed by governments and issued by central banks for use by the general public and companies. In contrast, wholesale CBDCs are also issued by central banks but are intended to enable financial institutions to hold reserve deposits with a central bank.

Retail CBDCs, on the other hand, “completely transform the financial system in a way that we don’t quite know what consequences it could bring,” she said.

According to the MD, IMF is collaborating with around 50 countries to ensure that best practices are adopted in CBDC design and implementation.

Meanwhile, Nigeria became one of the first countries to develop a central bank digital currency that is available to the public with the introduction of the eNaira on October 25, 2021. The eNaira is a digital currency denominated in naira that serves as a medium of exchange and a store of value.

According to the Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, Godwin Emefiele, 33 banks were successfully integrated into the eNaira network, with the apex bank minting N500m for the currency’s inauguration.

The regulator issued N200m to financial institutions, and over 2,000 customers were onboarded at the time of the launch.

The Punch reported on March 31, 2023, that eNaira transactions hit about N1.4m, and the CBN governor disclosed that the team took advantage of COVID-19 and other developments in-country to drive the electronic payment channels.

It was also reported that eNaira platform is now accessible to a wide range of users, and over 583,000 people have downloaded the consumer wallet, while the merchant wallet had 83,000 downloads from over 160 countries.

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