Your Privacy May Be at Stake as Central Banks Develop Digital Currencies

In the not-too-distant future, every time you buy a cup of coffee, someone somewhere might know about it. That’s an unnerving prospect as private companies and central banks experiment with digital currencies. On this week’s podcast, host Stephanie Flanders explores the promising and disconcerting future of Bitcoin and its brethren with Cornell University Senior Professor of Trade Policy Eswar Prasad, author of the forthcoming book “The Future of Money: How the Digital Revolution is Transforming Currencies and Finance.”

Also on this week’s episode, Singapore-based economics reporter Michelle Jamrisko and Hong Kong-based economist Chang Shu explain how low fertility rates in China and elsewhere in Asia are imperiling economies there. And Madrid-based economics reporter Jeannette Neumann visits Valencia to show how Spain and France are trying to help small businesses emerge from the pandemic intact. 

Digital currencies, including cryptocurrencies, pose a “fundamental threat” to central banks around the world because they cut banks out of the picture, Prasad said. Governments are developing their own digital currencies, which could give payment systems extra credibility and boost consumer confidence. But Prasad, a leading expert in this arena, warned that a significant downside to adoption will be privacy: Banks will be monitoring currencies for illicit use and “anything digital is going to be traceable.”

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