CBDCs will not, by default, act as a tool for financial inclusion unless they are meaningfully designed to do so by: 1) not replicating existing systems, 2) taking into account the key cultural, technical, and economic factors that drive exclusion, and 3) considering questions around design from the perspectives of users. For the past year, we’ve been investigating if CBDC can improve financial inclusion around the world. We’re excited to share our findings with you at a virtual event on Thursday, January 12th at 10:00 AM EST.
Our research team will share key technical and policy design questions for CBDC that will matter most for users related to:
- custody of funds, including the role of intermediaries
- access to the system, including issues of identity
- access to transactions, including the role of infrastructure
- data trails, including the issue of privacy
- transaction finality, including dispute resolution
- payments at a distance, including domestic and cross-border remittances
- Failing to address relevant design choices that matter for users could result in a CBDC that doubles down on the digital divide and undermines the long-term prospects for digital public money.
This research, led by a collaboration between the MIT Digital Currency Initiative (MIT DCI) and Maiden Labs, and funded by Financial Services for the Poor at the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, is an interdisciplinary effort to clarify the conversation around CBDC and financial inclusion in order to surface warning signs and ways forward for CBDC design. User research was conducted by local researchers in four countries: India, Indonesia, Nigeria, and Mexico. This unique project brought disparate bodies of knowledge into conversation with one another, pairing a team of technology experts in distributed systems, cryptography, and digital currency with socio-cultural researchers of money technology including Dr. Lana Swartz of the University of Virginia, Dr. Bill Maurer of the Institute for Money Technology and Financial Inclusion (IMTFI) at UC Irvine, Dr. Julie Frizzo-Barker, and Finthropology.