30 June 2023
34 leading thinkers from civil society and academia have signed a joint statement organised by Positive Money in response to the government’s digital pound consultation, calling for a “genuinely inclusive national conversation on the future of money.”
Noting that “a public digital pound could represent the most profound shift in the monetary system since the introduction of the Bank of England’s monopoly on banknotes nearly 200 years ago”, the statement warns that, without wider engagement, “There is a risk that the discussion will be nominated by financial services and tech firms who have vested interests in certain designs of a digital pound.” The Treasury and Bank of England are therefore urged to “make greater efforts to include the wider public, for instance through events across the country involving panels representing the diversity of the population.”
While the statement is supportive of widening access to publicly issued money via a digital pound (alongside physical cash), it cites concern that the idea “is currently being considered in a way that prioritises protecting incumbent private financial services providers at the expense of the public interest.” The signatories therefore outline three key principles that should underpin the design of a digital pound:
- A digital pound should be fully inclusive and accessible via a public option.
- A digital pound should offer the highest level of privacy.
- The public good benefits of a digital pound should not be sacrificed to protect the business models of incumbent banks.
The statement and signatories can be viewed in full here.
Positive Money also submitted separate organisational responses to the consultation and the accompanying technology working paper, which provided more detail on the design principles outlined in the joint statement.
An estimated 1500 Positive Money supporters were also mobilised to submit their own responses to the consultation ahead of its deadline on 30 June. Positive Money’s mobilisation drive included a public webinar with President Biden’s original nominee for US Comptroller of the Currency, Professor Saule Omarova, which explored how sovereign digital currencies could democratise the financial system.