Citigroup will be helping governments around the world establish sovereign digital currencies, or central bank digital currencies (CBDC), CEO Michael Corbat says, according to a report from CoinDesk.
Speaking with David Rubenstein at a Bloomberg event on Friday (Dec. 4), Corbat said the development of such digital currencies was likely inevitable with the way money has been trending.
Citigroup, he said, would use its status as a multinational banking group to work with governments on the “creation and commercialization” of such coins, though he declined to name which governments he was working with.
Corbat also said cryptocurrencies would play a role, and while he didn’t mention bitcoin, said some of the currencies would be “continued alternatives” that people can “take advantage of based on the underlying nature of what they are.”
According to CoinDesk, Citi spokesperson Danielle Romero Apsilos said the bank was actively participating in various governments’ discussions on CBDC.
“As a significant practitioner in the payments market with connections to over 200 clearing systems, Citi is providing experience-based insights into the design choices involved in the formulation of digital currencies,” she said, according to CoinDesk.
The debate over digital money has been going on for a while, with the pandemic throwing more complications in via the increased dependence on digital means of shopping and banking since it started. PYMNTS reports that a recent Bank for International Settlements (BIS) report says that digital currencies wouldn’t need to replace traditional paper money and coins, but rather could work alongside them as an alternative.
The report, according to PYMNTS, found that CBDC could help to eventually provide a more “resilient and diverse” domestic payment system, helping to offer new options not possible with cash.
European Union regulators have considered harsher stances on the issue though, such as advocating that only the European Central Bank should be able to issue digital currencies and saying other players, like Facebook’s Libra, would only complicate matters.