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Designing a CBDC for universal access

Summary:
Bank of Canada researchers – John Miedema, Cyrus Minwalla, Martine Warren, Dinesh Shah – in this staff note lay conditions for a universal access for CBDC. They speak about the need to store CBDC in a dedicated universal access device (UAD): A CBDC should be as accessible as cash. A CBDC is a digital product that can be designed to include many of the attributes of cash (e.g., ease of use, portability, offline function). Using a CBDC should be a positive and inclusive experience—from acquiring it, to using it in transactions, to being assisted by its support services. Multiple formats for a CBDC can embody the design principles of universal access. The Bank is exploring multiple formats for a CBDC, including conventional online and mobile technologies, as well as custom devices and

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Bank of Canada researchers – John Miedema, Cyrus Minwalla, Martine Warren, Dinesh Shah – in this staff note lay conditions for a universal access for CBDC.

They speak about the need to store CBDC in a dedicated universal access device (UAD):

  • A CBDC should be as accessible as cash. A CBDC is a digital product that can be designed to include many of the attributes of cash (e.g., ease of use, portability, offline function). Using a CBDC should be a positive and inclusive experience—from acquiring it, to using it in transactions, to being assisted by its support services.
  • Multiple formats for a CBDC can embody the design principles of universal access. The Bank is exploring multiple formats for a CBDC, including conventional online and mobile technologies, as well as custom devices and deviceless solutions. We will consult widely with stakeholders and users on these options.
  • A CBDC could be used through a dedicated universal access device (UAD). One potential concept the Bank is investigating is a custom device that is engineered for universal access while securely storing and transferring a CBDC. The device could incorporate attributes of cash and take advantage of specialized technologies. Such a device should be manufactured at a low cost and issued by the Bank to ensure maximum inclusion.
  • A UAD could be resilient in ways that a smartphone is not. A UAD could embed a local, secure store of value, be network-independent and operate for long periods on a local power source. If there is an infrastructure failure, a UAD may prevent the interruption of digital transactions.

UAD could resemble a pager kind of device. Central Banks could also be looking to set up a wireless company where these transactions could be facilitated.

Interesting to see how researchers are thinking through a merger of benefits of physical cash and today’s technologies while designing a CBDC.

Amol Agrawal
I am currently pursuing my PhD in economics. I have work-ex of nearly 10 years with most of those years spent figuring economic research in Mumbai’s financial sector.

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