Human Rights Foundation Launches CBDC Tracker
The Human Rights Foundation is creating a CBDC tracker to watch the progress of the movement's success.
With FedNow in the United States and CBDCs worldwide both on the rise, the Human Rights Foundation has announced the launch of a tracker to gauge the interest, progress and implementation of national digital currencies worldwide.
Although many world governments and financial institutions originally scorned the advent of Bitcoin, with its model of a decentralized world currency, one thing has been clear: the concept of a digital currency in general has grown like wildfire and won’t be stopped any time soon. So, even though the actual ethos behind Bitcoin is frequently treated as some fanciful notion that can be easily discarded, there has been a slow-rolling push worldwide to suggest that major governments should adopt this technology. Not by incorporating Bitcoin or any other existing digital assets, of course, but by issuing new ones themselves. And it’s on the rise.
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China, for example, made headlines in October when its digital yuan currency was made for a multimillion dollar oil purchase. Far from an internal experiment to test out the currency’s viability on a small scale, this purchase was made from a foreign nation that considered the digital yuan valid legal tender. In other words, on the side of Central Bank Decentralized Currencies (CBDCs) there now exists a global superpower, and it is far from the only one. For example, although Nigeria’s eNaira currency has undergone major revisions due to its sheer unpopularity in the Nigerian public, the currency still exists and is promoted. Attempting to display the growing strength of CBDCs internationally, Nigeria’s Central Bank produced a survey of African countries to determine their interest.
Calling the move towards CBDCs “the digital transformation of the economic system” and “another type of initiative…to spur development and economic inclusion in African countries”, the survey cites some startling figures: although Nigeria is the only African nation to fully adopt an asset like this, more than a quarter of such countries declared their official public support, and almost all of these were actively researching its implementation. Four even had pilot programs in the works, and Ghana and South Africa had already constructed infrastructure to facilitate the eventual rollout. The actual implementation of a nationalized digital currency is very far away, in other words, but a great number of countries wish to have such a thing. This is far from an African-exclusive trend, as IMF data states, as active testing had already extended to all continents but Antarctica by 2022.
A central bank decentralized currency offers up a possibility for government surveillance far beyond that of ordinary digital transactions, which at the very least are generally routed through private banks, let alone the anonymity promised by Bitcoin or, for that matter, cash purchases. By having the digital asset issued and managed directly by the central government, these unaccountable bureaucracies could use blockchain technology to easily track not just every purchase, but every dollar and everyone who has one, at all times. China’s digital yuan, for example, already employs a sophisticated blockchain ledger. Surely China’s international influence can inspire other nations to give their own CBDCs the same.
Even without directly using a CBDC, however, major governments worldwide can use this same mindset and framework to impose much of this surveillance capacity on their existing currencies. For example, take the United States’ FedNow service, which launched in July. An instant payment system that is intended to work with all US banks and credit unions, FedNow is capable of inserting an unprecedented degree of “government oversight” deep into citizens’ lives. The existing power of the federal government to examine, freeze or block transactions from bank accounts today still requires the intermediary of private banks, even though banks are frequently eager to help. With the FedNow system implemented on a wide scale, however, these powers will be stronger and easier to use. It is, if nothing else, a significant stepping stone on the path to a CBDC, and the Federal Reserve’s threats to sue the program’s detractors are no less worrying.
In this global environment of increasing surveillance power and centralized control, it’s no wonder that groups are stepping up to raise the alarm. On November 2nd, the Human Rights Foundation (HRF) announced the upcoming launch of its worldwide CBDC tracker. This tracker exists to track the interest and progress of CBDCs worldwide in a very similar manner to Nigeria’s Central Bank: considering such telltale metrics as official statements in favor of a CBDC, pilot programs and localized rollouts of several types,infrastructure to support their implementation and more. The HRF claimed that this new tracker will launch on November 14th, accompanied by an event at the National Press Club in Washington DC, and this event will feature several educational events including a panel of experts on the existing CBDC programs in major economies like China, Nigeria or India. Although isolated studies have taken place on this topic, the HRF is the first private or public organization to maintain this type of continually-updated study.
This tool will surely prove very useful in the worldwide fight for privacy, but sadly the battle to actually stop CBDCs on their own terms is looking like a very long one. As this fight rages on, it is essential to recognize that one of the most powerful tools to protect financial privacy already exists: Bitcoin. Many world governments have tried their damnedest to take the anonymity out of a decentralized currency, closely monitoring the most popular avenues to buy Bitcoin and keeping an eye on the blockchain. But this effort can never truly succeed.
Just in the last month alone, for example, there are several examples of major transactions, easily in the millions of dollars, and nobody has a clue as to who is actually behind them. Bitcoin was built to ensure financial sovereignty, and by its very nature frustrates all attempts to lock it down. The movement to create a national digital currency is growing in power, but the existing community for a nationless digital currency is far stronger. Bitcoin solves all the problems of guaranteeing real privacy, and it’s never too late to involve yourself. New tools like the HRF’s CBDC tracker will be essential for measuring our success in the fight, but the tool to win that success is already here. No matter how strong the forces against it may seem, Bitcoin has always managed to overcome its obstacles.