FinTech Notes

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March 27, 2024

Central Bank Digital Currency and Other Digital Payments in Sub-Saharan Africa: A Regional Survey

Description: This Fintech Note reports key findings from the Sub-Saharan Africa Central Bank Digital Currency (CBDC) and Digital Payments Survey, shedding light on the motivations, benefits, and challenges of CBDC adoption, as well as the developments of digital private money and crypto assets in sub-Saharan Africa. It emphasizes the pivotal role of collaboration and shared knowledge in navigating the intricate landscape of digital currencies and assets in sub-Saharan Africa. As this evolving digital frontier is explored, the experiences and aspirations of the region’s central banks, as expressed in the survey, will help harness the potential for digital currencies, assets, and payments, and foster cooperation among countries in sub-Saharan Africa. A forthcoming IMF Departmental Paper will focus on key issues for countries in sub-Saharan Africa pertaining to CBDCs, private digital payments, and crypto assets. It will provide a deeper discussion of the benefits, costs, and risks of these digital payment systems and present policy options to enhance financial digital development and inclusion, while safeguarding macroeconomic and financial stability.


December 6, 2023

Macro-Financial Implications of Foreign Crypto Assets for Small Developing Economies

Description: To explore risks associated with digital money, this Fintech Note simulates the hypothetical large-scale adoption of crypto assets in a model of a small open economy. The model highlights that a foreign-currency denominated stablecoin can amplify currency substitution and capital outflows in response to negative shocks. Monetary policy transmission is also weakened, forcing the central bank to adjust interest rates more aggressively in response to shocks. Capital flow management measures—if they do not constrain crypto flows—further incentivize households to hold foreign stablecoins for circumvention purposes, exacerbating the negative effects of crypto adoption on the macroeconomy. This underscores that widespread crypto adoption can weaken policymakers’ available options for mitigating external shocks and potentially increase cross-country spillovers.

September 22, 2023

Central Bank Digital Currency's Role in Promoting Financial Inclusion

Description: Financial inclusion is a key policy objective that central banks, especially those in emerging and low-income countries, are considering for retail central bank digital currency (CBDC). If properly designed to address the barriers to financial inclusion, CBDCs have the opportunity to gain acceptance by the financially excluded for digital payments. CBDC can then serve as an entry point to the broader formal financial system. CBDC has special aspects that may benefit financial inclusion, such as being a risk-free and widely acceptable form of digital money, availability for offline payments, and potentially lower costs and greater accessibility. However, CBDC is not a panacea to financial inclusion, and additional experience is needed to fully understand its potential impact.

September 15, 2023

Capital Flow Management Measures in the Digital Age (2): Design Choices for Central Bank Digital Currency

Description: This fintech note looks at how capital flow measures (CFMs) could be implemented with central bank digital currency (CBDC), and what benefits, risks and complexities could arise. There are several implications of the analysis. First, CBDC ecosystems should generally be designed such that they can accommodate the introduction of CFMs. Second, thanks to the programmability of the payment infrastructure given by the new digital technologies, certain CFMs could likely be implemented more efficiently and effectively with CBDC compared to the traditional system. Third, implementing CFMs requires central banks to collaborate on practices and standards. Finally, CFMs on CBDC need to operate alongside traditional CFMs.

September 15, 2023

Implications of Central Bank Digital Currencies for Monetary Policy Transmission

Description: This fintech note presents an analysis of the implications of central bank digital currency (CBDC) for monetary policy. In our framework, the implications of CBDC issuance on monetary policy are intermediated by its impact on key parts of the macroeconomic environment. The note also makes a distinction between “level effects”—whereby the introduction of CBDCs could tighten or loosen financial conditions as a shock—and “transmission effects,” whereby CBDCs change the impact of a given monetary policy shock on output, employment, and inflation. In general, the effects of CBDCs on monetary policy transmission are expected to be relatively small in normal times; however, these effects can be more significant in an environment with low interest rates or financial market stress.

September 8, 2023

A Guide to Central Bank Digital Currency Product Development

Description: As central bank digital currency (CBDC) projects progress around the world, there is increased need for a project management methodology that is appropriate for CBDC. This paper develops a CBDC-specific project management methodology that establishes a common terminology and offers guidance to development teams on best practices for addressing the complex requirements and risks associated with CBDC. It is centered on an original five-step approach called the “5P Methodology”: preparation, proof-of-concept, prototypes, pilots, and production. The methodology emphasizes a phased approach to CBDC research and development, with strong focus on research preparation, experimentation and testing, risk management, stakeholder engagement, and cyber resilience.

September 8, 2023

How Should Central Banks Explore Central Bank Digital Currency?

Description: Digitalization of the economy provides both challenges and opportunities. Central banks should ensure that they have the capacity to continue to meet their policy objectives in the digital age. It is in this context that central bank digital currency (CBDC) should be evaluated. If designed appropriately, CBDCs could allow central banks to modernize payment systems and future-proof central bank money as the pace and shape of digitalization continues to evolve. However, the decision to proceed with CBDC exploration and an eventual launch would need to be jurisdiction specific, depending on the degree of digitalization of the economy, the legal and regulatory frameworks, and the central bank’s internal capacity. This paper proposes a dynamic decision-making framework under which the central bank can make decisions under uncertainty. A phased and iterative approach could allow central banks to adjust the pace, scale, and scope of their CBDC projects as the domestic and international environment changes.

August 22, 2023

Generative Artificial Intelligence in Finance: Risk Considerations

Description: In recent years, technological advances and competitive pressures have fueled rapid adoption of artificial intelligence (AI) in the financial sector, and this adoption is set to accelerate with the recent emergence of generative AI (GenAI). GenAI is a significant leap forward in AI technology that enhances its utility for financial institutions that have been quick at adapting it to a broad range of applications. However, there are risks inherent in the AI technology and its application in the financial sector, including embedded bias, privacy concerns, outcome opaqueness, performance robustness, unique cyberthreats, and the potential for creating new sources and transmission channels of systemic risks. GenAI could aggravate some of these risks and bring about new types or risks as well, including for financial sector stability. This paper provides early insights into GenAI’s inherent risks and their potential impact on the financial sector.

June 26, 2023

Institutional Arrangements for Fintech Regulation: Supervisory Monitoring

Description: The impact of fintech is growing rapidly worldwide, although this growth is uneven across jurisdictions. Depending on the effect of fintech, authorities may adopt a passive approach of monitoring fintech, try and capture new business models in existing regulatory frameworks, develop bespoke regulation, or adopt test and learn policies through institutional arrangements like innovation hubs and sandboxes. The test and learn approach is relatively unique to fintech in financial regulation and supervision and has advantages and disadvantages. While it can help authorities monitor and respond to the challenges of fintech in some scenarios, in others it could lead to risks to consumers and markets, particularly when designed poorly or with an unclear use case. Ultimately, the aim for authorities should be to consider fintech regulation part of the mainstream, where fintech expertise is embedded throughout an organization and not siloed to specific fintech units.

June 19, 2023

The Rise of Payment and Contracting Platforms

Description: This Note explores the design and governance of platforms to enhance cross-border payments in line with public policy goals. While much innovation in recent years has more narrowly targeted end-user frictions, the vision in this paper is based on the mandate of the IMF, governed by the central banks and finance ministries of 190 member countries. Cross-border payments present the foundation for the global financial system, and its functioning is overseen by the IMF.

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