2 - 4 minute read
The U.S. Treasury Department is exploring ways to maintain retail transaction privacy and anonymity in a potential digital dollar, said Graham Steele, the assistant secretary for financial institutions. Steele spoke at the Transform Payments USA 2023 Conference in Texas, stating that the department is studying the extent to which privacy and anonymity can be preserved while exploring technologies and methods, including Privacy Enhancing Technologies (PETs), to allow such protections in the design of a possible retail CBDC. Steele added that advanced technologies could play a crucial role in maintaining transactional privacy while ensuring transparency and traceability.
However, Steele also warned of the possible risks of a retail CBDC, especially runs, which could be hazardous due to high-speed, panic-driven movements of funds. Steele said that a group led by the Treasury is evaluating policy objectives related to global financial leadership, national security, privacy, illicit finance, and financial inclusion.
Meanwhile, Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen testified before the House Financial Services Committee, expressing concern over regulatory gaps in the oversight of non-securities digital assets and stablecoins. She called for a comprehensive federal prudential framework and offered to work with Congress in developing such a framework.
The discussion surrounding CBDCs has dominated the Consensus 2023, with privacy concerns remaining a top issue. The U.S. Treasury’s exploration of privacy-enhancing technologies could address some of these concerns. PETs provide a way to protect privacy while still providing transparency and traceability, which could be crucial in maintaining transactional privacy in CBDCs.
The Bottom Line
The exploration of privacy-enhancing technologies by the U.S. Treasury Department is a significant development in the potential rollout of a digital dollar. While CBDCs offer many benefits, privacy concerns remain a top issue. The use of PETs could provide a way to maintain transactional privacy while ensuring transparency and traceability. However, the risks of a retail CBDC, such as runs, must be addressed to prevent panic-driven movements of funds. Traders should keep an eye on developments in the CBDC space, as a comprehensive federal prudential framework could eventually be put in place to regulate digital assets and stablecoins.