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Israel’s Central Bank Mulls CBDC Issuance Amid Growing Stablecoin Adoption

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  • What – The Bank of Israel has announced that it could issue its own Central Bank Digital Currency (CBDC) if the usage of stablecoins increases. 
  • Why – The statement was made by the central bank’s deputy governor, Andrew Abir, in a recent conference. 
  • What next – According to Abir, the rise in stablecoin usage raises concerns about their potential impact on the financial system, as they are not backed by traditional assets like bank deposits.

In contrast, a CBDC would be backed by the central bank and could serve as a more secure digital alternative to physical cash. 

The deputy governor noted that the Bank of Israel has been researching the feasibility of a CBDC for several years, and is closely monitoring the development of stablecoins and other digital currencies. 

He emphasized that the central bank is not against stablecoins, but wants to ensure they are used in a way that is safe and stable for the financial system. Abir also mentioned that the Bank of Israel is currently exploring the potential benefits and risks of a CBDC, including its impact on monetary policy, financial stability, and privacy. 

The central bank is working with other financial institutions to gather data and input on the issue. The possibility of a CBDC in Israel comes amid a growing trend of central banks around the world exploring digital currencies. 

China has already launched a pilot of its digital yuan, and other countries such as the United States, Canada, and the European Union are also studying the possibility of CBDCs. Stablecoins, on the other hand, have been in the spotlight recently due to concerns about their regulation and transparency. 

In the United States, several stablecoin issuers, including Tether and Circle, are under investigation by the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) over potential violations of securities laws. 

Abir’s comments also come as Israel’s cryptocurrency industry continues to grow. In recent years, the country has become a hub for blockchain startups and crypto-related innovation, with the government taking steps to promote the industry’s development. 

However, the central bank has been cautious about the use of cryptocurrencies and digital assets. In 2019, it issued a statement warning the public about the risks of investing in cryptocurrencies, and in 2020, it tightened regulations on crypto-related activities, requiring financial institutions to report any transactions involving digital assets. 

Despite the central bank’s cautious approach, the Israeli government has shown interest in the potential of blockchain and digital currencies. 

In 2018, it launched a blockchain initiative aimed at promoting the technology’s development in the country, and in 2020, it announced plans to develop a digital shekel as a pilot project. 

In conclusion, the Bank of Israel’s announcement that it could issue a CBDC if stablecoin usage increases demonstrates the country’s willingness to explore digital currencies as a potential alternative to traditional cash. 

The central bank’s cautious approach to the use of cryptocurrencies and digital assets, combined with its ongoing research into the feasibility of a CBDC, shows a balanced approach to the issue. 

As the use of digital currencies and stablecoins continues to rise, it will be interesting to see how central banks worldwide respond. With countries like China already piloting their digital currencies, it seems that CBDCs may soon become a reality in many parts of the world, including Israel.

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