With the emergence of Bitcoin and recently proposed stablecoins from BigTechs, such as Libra, central banks face a choice of either leaving the field to private actors or offering a digital alternative to physical cash themselves. Currently, central banks issue two types of money: (i) reserves in the form of settlement accounts at the central bank for selected financial market participants, and (ii) currency in the form of banknotes and coins available to the public. Accordingly, the literature on central bank digital currency (CBDC) distinguishes between (a) wholesale CBDC with limited access and (b) retail CBDC accessible to the public. In this lecture, we will discuss where central banks currently stand and possible designs for a CBDC.


Thomas Moser is an Alternate Member of the Governing Board of the Swiss National Bank. Before, he was Executive Director at the International Monetary Fund (IMF) in Washington D.C. from 2006 to 2010. He received his Masters and Doctorate in Economics from the University of Zurich.

Recommended Reading Materials:

- Central bank digital currencies: foundational principles and core features. Joint report by The Bank of Canada, European Central Bank, Bank of Japan, Sveriges Riksbank, Swiss National Bank, Bank of England, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve and Bank for International Settlements. October 2020 (https://www.bis.org/publ/othp33.htm)

- David Chaum, Christian Grothoff, and Thomas Moser (2020). How to Issue a Central Bank Digital Currency. Working Paper.