Central banks all over the world are planning to launch digital currencies. Fueled by competition from private firms as well as increasingly charged geopolitical ties, authorities believe cash may soon no longer be king.
The history of digital currencies is short but confusing. In 2009, when Bitcoin appeared on the scene, the talk was of a decentralized utopia. A system that promised anonymity and the abolition of middlemen.
A little over a decade on, bastions of centralized power as diverse as the People’s Bank of China and the world’s largest social media platform are rushing to embrace digital money.
The reasons are manifold. The rapid rise of Bitcoin suggested there was an appetite for a faster, easier way to move money around. But its remarkable volatility undermined its credentials as a solid currency.