Last December it was announced that the Swiss campaign for monetary reform Modernising Money (MoMo) had collected 111,819 signatures to support a referendum on removing the ability of banks to create money.
Since we released our paper Digital Cash, which proposes that members of the public should be able to hold an electronic version of notes and coins in accounts at the Bank of England, a number of people have raised concerns about the privacy implications.
Patrizio Laina, a PhD candidate at the University of Helsinki, has written a short but very comprehensive overview of the history of proposals to take the power to create money away from banks. Laina traces the ideas back right to the 1830s, and ends with the proposals of Positive Money and Martin Wolf in 2015. This is one of the best overviews that I've seen of the history of these ideas, and well worth a read. (It's in plain English). The full paper is well worth reading. Introduction: "[Full reserve banking, i.e. preventing banks from creating money] has been proposed and even implemented as a solution to financial instability a number of times in the past. Thus, the idea of monetary reform should be seen as a historical continuum. In the UK the Bank Charter Act of 1844 prohibited private money creation through fractional-reserve banking by requiring that bank notes (which were the prevailing means of payment) should be fully-backed by government money. The National Acts of 1863 and 1864 achieved the same goal in the US.
The UK’s Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) has been investigating the low level of competition between banks in the UK. They released their provisional findings today, but backed away from any measures that would enable true competition. As we warned in our initial submission to the Commission, it’s an illusion to think that switching between four large and almost identical banks is true competition. We argued that there’s much greater chance of real competition if tech firms are allowed to compete with banks to provide current accounts to individuals and businesses. But the CMA’s recommendations do nothing to enable that.