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Markets Magazine

Crypto Revolution Spurs Central Banks to Design Money’s Future

Six projects around the world provide clues to the next stage of digital cash. 


Illustrator: Steven Wilson

When the U.S. and its allies decided to punish Russia for its invasion of Ukraine, they used their power over the global financial system to isolate the nation, crippling its economy and crushing the value of the ruble. But what if, in the future, countries don’t need those U.S.-dominated payment networks?

That’s one of the big questions also being asked now about China’s digital yuan and the European Central Bank’s plans for a digital euro, just two of the many so-called central bank digital currencies (CBDCs) that are being tested or studied around the world. CBDCs have emerged amid the rise of thousands of cryptocurrencies, which are quickly disrupting traditional payment systems and pushing central bankers to innovate to compete.