Programmable Digital Currencies with new controls for all citizens is coming.
Programmable Digital Currencies Are ComingIn many ways, the dawning of CBDCs — like the coming digital dollar — will be a good thing. In various other ways, however, a central-bank-issued digital currency will range from nuisance to nightmare.
Digital dollars would likely also be programmable in and of themselves, allowing for instant tax payments at the point of sale. Tax refunds and rebates could be instant, too.
And attempts to purchase a restricted item — like, say, a firearm without proper background clearance — could be automatically denied.
In many ways, programmable digital money would be a fantasy come true for economists. This is because economists believe economies are driven by human behavior, and human behavior is driven by incentives, and all kinds of incentives could be built into digital money.
Imagine, for example, a maximum limit on the loan-to-value (LTV) ratio of home mortgages, designed to prevent future housing bubbles.
If such limits were programmed into the digital currency, as a form of “smart contract,” the transaction would not go through for a loan amount deemed too large.
Economists, political leaders, and central bank officials could then use the “smart contract” feature of digital dollars to tweak or massage incentives in all sorts of ways.
For example, fossil fuel use might be embedded with a higher VAT (value-added tax) surcharge than green energy use. Buying sugary cereal might create a small debit, whereas buying broccoli creates a small credit. And so on.
In addition to the above, all transactions would be instantly available for review, or easily aggregated into “big data” analysis patterns. This would give the Federal Reserve unprecedented new levels of visibility into the current state of the economy.