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Will Covid make countries drop cash and adopt digital currencies? | Kenneth Rogoff

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August 06, 2020 at 07:00AM

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Coronavirus has accelerated the shift away from banknotes – central banks must act fast to catch up

As the Covid-19 crisis accelerates the long-term shift away from cash (at least in tax-compliant, legal transactions), official discussions about digital currencies are heating up. Between the impending launch of Facebook’s Libra and China’s proposed central-bank digital currency, events now could reshape global finance for a generation. A recent report from the G30 argues that if central banks want to shape the outcome, they need to start moving fast.

Much is at stake, including global financial stability and control of information. Financial innovation, if not carefully managed, is often at the root of a crisis, and the dollar gives the US significant monitoring and sanctions capabilities. Dollar dominance is not just about what currency is used, but also about the systems that clear transactions and, from China to Europe, there is a growing desire to challenge this. This is where a lot of the innovation is taking place.

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