Image: Cointelegraph

The recent survey results published by the Bank of International Settlements produced bullish and bearish sentiments with regard to central bank digital currency (CBDC) adoption. While banks in emerging market economies (EMEs) are moving more rapidly toward issuing government-sponsored CBDCs, those in established countries appear to be taking a more cautious stance on the transition from fiat currencies to digital, Cointelegraph reported.

The irony here is that the banks that could potentially catapult the world into the digital currency age are the ones that are the least likely to be the early adopters. What’s driving – or not driving – their reluctance to move faster?

An estimated 1.6 billion people could have access to CBDCs in the next three years. That’s the most startling finding of the study, which was appropriately titled “Impending arrival – a sequel to the survey on central bank digital currency.” Respondents of the survey included 66 banks representing 75% of the world’s population and 90% of its economic output. Ten percent of the banks reported that they would issue the first general-purpose CBDCs in the next three years, representing 20% of the world’s population.

This means that digital currencies, although centralized, have the potential to achieve an almost immediate mass adoption that the creators of cryptocurrencies and stablecoins have been working toward for the past 10 years.

When discussing the report’s findings with Cointelegraph, Himanshu Yadav, the co-founder and managing partner of Woodstock Fund, a multi-asset investment fund, said: “As CBDCs are rolled out, more and more people will want to understand what a digital currency is.”

He added, “Some will ignore them, and some will explore them further, leading to a net positive gain in the cryptocurrency ecosystem. Developers will build tools that will allow for seamless exchange between CBDCs and cryptocurrencies, and the race for digital currency supremacy will take center stage in this decade.”

Most of the CBDCs will be issued in emerging market economies. This makes perfect sense for EMEs, which have historically struggled with issues including payment efficiencies, safety and financial inclusion. Issuing a CBDC could reduce or even eliminate some of these system inefficiencies that stand in the way of serving current markets and expanding their reach globally.

Nataly Simson, the chief operating officer of Coinsbit.io, a cryptocurrency exchange based in Estonia, explained what this new and large potential user base means to cryptocurrency to Cointelegraph: “By increasing the number of users utilizing blockchain technology, industries will need to adapt to support these currencies for everyday purchases, not only trading.

“New marketplaces can grow in the underdeveloped countries that are considering CBDC implementations and is why our marketplace connects directly to Amazon and eBay, to empower acceptance and use of CBDCs and cryptocurrency. More consumers benefit the entire cryptocurrency ecosystem when unlocked.”

There’s an increase in cash, but its use for payments is declining. This trend reported by the banks provides insight into how consumers use money. Cash is being used to store value, not as a payment. The movement toward a cashless society continues to advance as people choose alternative forms of payment. The CEO of Element Zero, Jude Regev, told Cointelegraph that “brands issuing forked CBDCs may receive greater adoption than asset-backed government currencies.”

Meanwhile, the Wuhan virus outbreak has put one advantage of CBDCs over traditional cash into sharp focus: disease control. Bitcoin.com reported that the People’s Bank of China has ordered commercial banks to take used notes out of circulation and disinfect them.

The disinfected fiat cash will also need to be kept in quarantine for a period of seven to 14 days before it can be reintroduced to the public, with the length of time bills are kept in isolation varying from region to region according to its level of infection with the virus. Moreover, the Guangzhou branch of the People’s Bank of China claimed on Saturday that all used cash notes coming from hospitals, wet markets, and public transportation buses will simply be annihilated as soon as possible. And according to reports from the area, stacks of cash are now being stockpiled in warehouses until they can be eliminated.

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