Fed Asks Americans for Feedback on a Central Bank Digital Currency—Here Are Some Responses

Americans are worried that a U.S. Central Bank Digital Currency (CBDC) could end up compromising essential freedoms, further centralizing monetary policy, and making the country’s currency vulnerable to hacking, according to a recently published Fed survey. In January last year, the Fed published a white paper on what a CBDC could look like. It asked for public comments on issues like potential risks and benefits a CBDC can have on the country. On April 20, the Fed released the responses in nine documents. Here are some of the various answers and concerns expressed by respondents, some of whom were named, others who were unnamed, as well as those whose names were redacted. A student from Texas pointed to the breach of privacy, government overreach, and hacking as risks posed by CBDC. “With this digital currency, the government would be able to usurp freedoms without the knowledge/consent of the public. “The best e-hackers and cybersecurity personnel don’t work for the government. They work in the private sector. It is naive to think, given the government’s track record, that it could ever be trusted to secure such an asset.” A CBDC might also trigger a “run on financial institutions,” the individual warned. Andrew W. from Virginia warned that centralization of monetary policies can “easily be abused and cause unintended disruption.” CBDCs can further centralize monetary policies and “only increases the risk potential.” Hollie Bishop from Indiana cited public mistrust as her number one concern about central bank digital currencies. “People are afraid of being constantly monitored. Also, our aging and elderly population pay bills in cash and may not know how to use this system, leaving them susceptible to hunger, bills not being paid, etc.” Power Issues, Quantum Computing Hack Lucas Vincent from Arizona warned that power consumption is a major issue. “The power consumption that provides the means of creating said digital currency, which has caused power outages in places like Kazakhstan and even New York, is an enormous risk that puts Earth at stake because of the environmental damage that digital currency mining causes,” he said. Andy Garcia from Georgia notes that the dependence of CBDCs on electricity makes them vulnerable. “If the long-term goal is to get rid of paper currency, relying strictly on CBDC, the entire economic system will become vulnerable and susceptible to crippling cyber-attacks. There needs to be a fallback system that would work without electricity, much like paper currency does.” Horacio Gasquet from Texas pointed out that with the advent of quantum computing, even the most sophisticated encryption algorithms can be cracked. As such, in order for a CBDC to be “truly secure,” the digital currency should be “rooted in quantum key encryption.” A few of the comments highlighted purported benefits of CBDCs, like faster fund transfers and providing stability in case of hyperinflation. Should the US Follow Other Nations? The Fed asked, “How should decisions by other large economy nations to issue CBDCs influence the decision whether the United States should do so?” An unnamed individual answered (pdf): “It should send warning signs to our country creating a CBDC. There’s a reason China implemented a CBDC, and it’s not for efficiency.” Aaron Olszewski from New Hampshire also said, “A shift to a CBDC is a shift to push people away from using that nation’s currency.” Brian Marshall from Idaho replied, “The United States should first worry about following the Constitution and preserving liberty, not trying to follow other countries in their descent into tyranny. Free markets will always provide the means to exchange one currency for another.” JC Denton from California said that other nations adopting a CBDC does not mean the United States ought to do the same. “Our financial purpose should be to focus on our own issues. If other nations wish to perform such actions, it is their choice. We don’t need to follow a bad idea just because other groups are doing it,” said Chad Rytting from Utah. Phil Zobrist from Illinois said that the United States was “the standard” and it can remain so if “you maintain a strong dollar.” Many of the respondents reacted negatively to the idea of the United States following other countries in adopting financial systems. A small minority voiced support for a CBDC, stating a goal of catching up to other nations. The US Constitution Many responses (pdf) to the Fed survey mentioned how the idea of a CBDC was antithetical to the U.S. Constitution. When the Fed asked, “Should a CBDC be designed to maximize ease of use and acceptance at the point of sale?” Lawrence Raymond from Maryland replied, “No, because all transactions would become public, which goes against the freedoms outlined in the Constitution.” When the Fed asked, “Could some or all of the potential benefits of a CBDC be better achieved in a different way?” Richard Hay from Texas said, “Yes,

Fed Asks Americans for Feedback on a Central Bank Digital Currency—Here Are Some Responses

Americans are worried that a U.S. Central Bank Digital Currency (CBDC) could end up compromising essential freedoms, further centralizing monetary policy, and making the country’s currency vulnerable to hacking, according to a recently published Fed survey.

In January last year, the Fed published a white paper on what a CBDC could look like. It asked for public comments on issues like potential risks and benefits a CBDC can have on the country. On April 20, the Fed released the responses in nine documents. Here are some of the various answers and concerns expressed by respondents, some of whom were named, others who were unnamed, as well as those whose names were redacted.

A student from Texas pointed to the breach of privacy, government overreach, and hacking as risks posed by CBDC. “With this digital currency, the government would be able to usurp freedoms without the knowledge/consent of the public.

“The best e-hackers and cybersecurity personnel don’t work for the government. They work in the private sector. It is naive to think, given the government’s track record, that it could ever be trusted to secure such an asset.” A CBDC might also trigger a “run on financial institutions,” the individual warned.

Andrew W. from Virginia warned that centralization of monetary policies can “easily be abused and cause unintended disruption.” CBDCs can further centralize monetary policies and “only increases the risk potential.”

Hollie Bishop from Indiana cited public mistrust as her number one concern about central bank digital currencies. “People are afraid of being constantly monitored. Also, our aging and elderly population pay bills in cash and may not know how to use this system, leaving them susceptible to hunger, bills not being paid, etc.”

Power Issues, Quantum Computing Hack

Lucas Vincent from Arizona warned that power consumption is a major issue. “The power consumption that provides the means of creating said digital currency, which has caused power outages in places like Kazakhstan and even New York, is an enormous risk that puts Earth at stake because of the environmental damage that digital currency mining causes,” he said.

Andy Garcia from Georgia notes that the dependence of CBDCs on electricity makes them vulnerable. “If the long-term goal is to get rid of paper currency, relying strictly on CBDC, the entire economic system will become vulnerable and susceptible to crippling cyber-attacks. There needs to be a fallback system that would work without electricity, much like paper currency does.”

Horacio Gasquet from Texas pointed out that with the advent of quantum computing, even the most sophisticated encryption algorithms can be cracked. As such, in order for a CBDC to be “truly secure,” the digital currency should be “rooted in quantum key encryption.”

A few of the comments highlighted purported benefits of CBDCs, like faster fund transfers and providing stability in case of hyperinflation.

Should the US Follow Other Nations?

The Fed asked, “How should decisions by other large economy nations to issue CBDCs influence the decision whether the United States should do so?”

An unnamed individual answered (pdf): “It should send warning signs to our country creating a CBDC. There’s a reason China implemented a CBDC, and it’s not for efficiency.”

Aaron Olszewski from New Hampshire also said, “A shift to a CBDC is a shift to push people away from using that nation’s currency.”

Brian Marshall from Idaho replied, “The United States should first worry about following the Constitution and preserving liberty, not trying to follow other countries in their descent into tyranny. Free markets will always provide the means to exchange one currency for another.”

JC Denton from California said that other nations adopting a CBDC does not mean the United States ought to do the same.

“Our financial purpose should be to focus on our own issues. If other nations wish to perform such actions, it is their choice. We don’t need to follow a bad idea just because other groups are doing it,” said Chad Rytting from Utah.

Phil Zobrist from Illinois said that the United States was “the standard” and it can remain so if “you maintain a strong dollar.”

Many of the respondents reacted negatively to the idea of the United States following other countries in adopting financial systems. A small minority voiced support for a CBDC, stating a goal of catching up to other nations.

The US Constitution

Many responses (pdf) to the Fed survey mentioned how the idea of a CBDC was antithetical to the U.S. Constitution.

When the Fed asked, “Should a CBDC be designed to maximize ease of use and acceptance at the point of sale?” Lawrence Raymond from Maryland replied, “No, because all transactions would become public, which goes against the freedoms outlined in the Constitution.”

When the Fed asked, “Could some or all of the potential benefits of a CBDC be better achieved in a different way?” Richard Hay from Texas said, “Yes, return to the constitutional definition of money, which is gold and silver.

“Fiat currencies continue to destroy the poor and middle class by endless expansion of debt and the money supply destroying the value of wages and savings of the vast majority of the population while enriching the owners of assets by driving asset prices higher via inflationary pressures caused by the expansion of credit. Our founders envisioned an honest monetary system.”

Hay added, “The CBDC would eventually be weaponized against political opponents and groups of people that differ from the beliefs of a centralized control governing system.”

Rodger Reed from California said: “Our economy must remain a function of the constitutional mandate created by the founders. By design, a CBDC does not serve the American people the way sound money does.”

When the Fed asked, “What additional potential benefits, policy considerations, or risks of a CBDC may exist that have not been raised in this paper?” Charles Dowling from Colorado said: “The people who are aware of reality do not respect the government whatsoever. And would probably not use your CBDC. And no one wants an illegal, unconstitutional government poking into their business.”

Privacy Concerns

During a recent speech in Washington, Federal Reserve Governor Michelle W. Bowman admitted that “safeguarding privacy is a top concern” with regard to the use of CBDCs. Bowman wants CBDCs to have enough protections to safeguard the privacy of customers and businesses while also being transparent enough to deter criminal activity.

“In thinking about the implications of CBDC and privacy, we must also consider the central role that money plays in our daily lives, and the risk that a CBDC would provide not only a window into but potentially an impediment to, the freedom Americans enjoy in choosing how money and resources are used and invested,” said Bowman.

“So, a central consideration must be how a potential U.S. CBDC could incorporate privacy considerations into its design, and what technology and policy options could support a robust privacy framework.”

An analysis by the Cato Institute warned that CBDCs pose a foundational threat to America’s economic systems. A U.S. CBDC will eventually “usurp” the private sector and endanger the core freedoms of American citizens, it said.

As such, CBDCs should have “no place” in the American economy, the institute stated. It called on Congress to “explicitly prohibit” the Department of Treasury and the Federal Reserve from issuing CBDCs in any form.