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Second Quarter 2018, 
Vol. 100, No. 2
Posted 2018-04-16

The Case for Central Bank Electronic Money and the Non-case for Central Bank Cryptocurrencies

by Aleksander Berentsen and Fabian Schär

We characterize various currencies according to their control structure, focusing on cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin and government-issued fiat money. We then argue that there is a large unmet demand for a liquid asset that allows households and firms to save outside of the private financial sector. Central banks could offer such an asset by simply allowing households and firms to open accounts with them. Finally, we conclude that a central bank will not issue cryptocurrencies in the sense of a truly decentralized and permissionless asset that allows users to remain anonymous.