Should central banks be concerned about virtual currencies?

02-07-2018

Virtual currencies have generated much discussion over the past few years with some believing they are an improvement on state-issued currencies and will end up replacing them. This paper argues this is extremely unlikely. Cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin do not work well as money because of security weaknesses and the volatility of their price relative to traditional currencies. The theory that the private sector will choose to replace a state-backed currency with privately-issued currency also has little historical backing. This document was provided by Policy Department A at the request of the Economic and Monetary Affairs Committee.

Virtual currencies have generated much discussion over the past few years with some believing they are an improvement on state-issued currencies and will end up replacing them. This paper argues this is extremely unlikely. Cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin do not work well as money because of security weaknesses and the volatility of their price relative to traditional currencies. The theory that the private sector will choose to replace a state-backed currency with privately-issued currency also has little historical backing. This document was provided by Policy Department A at the request of the Economic and Monetary Affairs Committee.

External author

Professor Karl Whelan