Central Bank Digital Currency – Put the Public First

When developing new technology, success depends on fully understanding the users’ behavior. Collecting real data on what people are doing, what they believe and what they want is critical. Designers of Central Bank Digital Currency (CBDC) have a lot to learn from the anthropology experts – and the manufacturers and designers of banknotes. 

“Right now, there’s a very high degree of public trust in banknotes. We need something similar with CBDC and know more about that cash-digital interface”, says Bill Maurer.  

Professor Bill Maurer is a cultural anthropologist and Director of the Institute for Money, Technology and Financial Inclusion at the University of California in Irvine. He leads a team of 180 researchers, active in 40 countries around the world seeking to understand how people are using different techniques to transfer value.  

“People always ask, when is the end of cash coming? And I always say never, because as long as we have inequality, access issues, crisis and uncertainty, people are going to need cash”, he says.  

Bill Maurer is one of the keynote presenters at Crane Currency’s central bank event Public First in Malta on March 13-16. According to him, a Central Bank Digital Currency is still a mostly hypothetical digital denomination of state-issued currency.  

“We still need to know how people are moving back and forth between cash and digital – and why. My biggest piece of advice is always to look at the data coming from end-users and don’t assume that we know everything”, says Bill Maurer. 

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