US economics professor Eswar Prasad has said that governments can program central bank digital currencies (CBDCs) to restrict purchases made by citizens.
Speaking at a June World Economic Forum (WEF) event, Cornell University professor Eswar Prasad opined that one of the “dangerous” aspects of CBDCs could be its ability to enable authorities to decide how people spend their money.
Professor Prasad hypothesized that given the programmability of CBDCs, governments could input features such as expiry dates and the ability to purchase some things, not others.
According to the professor, through these government-sanctioned digital currencies, authorities could stop people from buying harmful or socially undesirable products, including drugs, guns, ammunition, or pornographic content.
However, the Cornell economist warned that if governments used CBDCs as conduits for economic or social policies in a targeted way, it could affect the digital currency’s integrity and even compromise the independence of central banks.
Professor Prasad’s remarks have elicited strong reactions in the crypto world, where CBDCs have long been a topic of contention.
Opponents of central bank-controlled digital currencies believe they endanger users’ privacy and might lead to total government control. At the same time, supporters see them as tools to increase adoption and a global use case for blockchain technology.
Ron DeSantis to ban CBDCs if elected president
CBDC projects have expanded dramatically in recent years, with over 100 countries exploring the technology and at least 39 countries conducting CBDC pilots, proof-of-concept tests, or other similar activities.
While the U.S. Federal Reserve has distanced itself from any plans to create a digital dollar anytime soon, politicians vying for office in the 2024 election have frequently made pronouncements on crypto-related issues in their early campaigns. CBDC opponents are predominantly Republican, making the subject a very partisan one.
DeSantis, now vying to be the next U.S. president, reiterated his stance against a digital version of the U.S. dollar on July 14 at the Family Leadership Summit in Iowa. He promised to outlaw CBDCs on the first day of his administration if elected president.