CBDC Governance: Programmability, Privacy and Policies

Digital Policy Hub Working Paper

March 12, 2024

Central banks are exploring, developing and implementing a new form of money: central bank digital currency (CBDC). In short, it is a digital version of a country’s currency issued by its central bank. While significant research has focused on the economic and technological aspects, the governance perspective has not received enough consideration. This paper focuses on the topics of programmability and surveillance — from a governance perspective. It also discusses whether CBDC is needed and suggests that if it is, then legal protection for cash should be considered. Issues of centrality, pace and public involvement are compared with another new technology — artificial intelligence. Eleven policy recommendations are suggested on privacy and data rights, accessibility, public participation and oversight, prohibiting programmable money, legislation protecting cash and more. Ultimately, democratic institutions uphold trust in CBDCs.

About the Author

Ori Freiman is a post-doctoral fellow both at McMaster University’s Digital Society Lab and with the Digital Policy Hub at the Centre for International Governance Innovation. His research focuses on building trust in central bank digital currencies.