San Francisco Federal Reserve (Fed) President John Williams has claimed that there is no official plan by the Fed to issue a digital currency anytime soon. However, he did announce an ongoing study on the possibility of doing so in the future.

During a question-and-answer session following his speech in Phoenix, in late November 2017, Williams said:

“Right now the Federal Reserve is not developing its own digital currency…I think this will be a very exciting area over the next decade. I’m not going to say what we will or won’t do because there are no specific plans.”

The prospect for various central banks around the world to issue their own virtual currencies has arisen because of the gradual but steady shift toward digital payments. The issuance of central bank digital currencies could potentially facilitate the operations of such institutions as the Fed, allowing them to compete with Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies.

Complementary currency

If the Fed ever did issue its own virtual currency, it would not likely replace the dollar. Instead, if would serve as a sort of “digital dollar” in order to complement existing fiat. Should any such project move forward, it would be interesting to see how a central bank-issued virtual currency would compete. The government could potentially use its regulatory powers to try and gain an advantage over decentralized cryptocurrencies.