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In a market where consumers choose between payment options and firms compete with products and prices, we show that payment data drives the formation of a market monopoly. A data-sharing policy can successfully restore and maintain a competitive market, but often at the expense of both efficiency and consumer welfare. The introduction of a low-cost anonymous means of electronic payment, or digital cash, preserves the market structure and improves consumers’ welfare by enabling them to monetize their private information. We discuss the potential role of central banks in providing digital ...
Embedded Supervision: How to Build Regulation into Blockchain Finance
The spread of distributed ledger technology (DLT) in finance could help to improve the efficiency and quality of supervision. This paper makes the case for embedded supervision, i.e., a regulatory framework that provides for compliance in tokenized markets to be automatically monitored by reading the market?s ledger, thus reducing the need for firms to actively collect, verify and deliver data. After sketching out a design for such schemes, the paper explores the conditions under which distributed ledger data might be used to monitor compliance. To this end, a decentralized market is modelled ...
Monetizing Privacy with Central Bank Digital Currencies
In prior research, we documented evidence suggesting that digital payment adoptions have accelerated as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. While digitalization of payment activity improves data utilization by firms, it can also infringe upon consumers’ right to privacy. Drawing from a recent paper, this blog post explains how payment data acquired by firms impacts market structure and consumer welfare. Then, we discuss the implications of introducing a central bank digital currency (CBDC) that offers consumers a low-cost, privacy-preserving electronic means of payment—essentially, digital ...
COVID-19 and the Search for Digital Alternatives to Cash
Today, the majority of retail payments in the United States are digital. Practically all digital payments are tracked, collected, and aggregated by financial institutions, payment providers, and vendors. This trend has accelerated during the COVID-19 pandemic as payments that require physical contact, such as cash, have been discouraged. As cash gradually becomes obsolete, consumers are left with fewer alternatives for making private transactions. In this post, we outline some evidence on the impact of COVID-19 on consumer payment behavior and follow up in the second post in this Liberty ...