The Oliver Wyman Forum helps organizations confront the most-pressing societal challenges and foster growth and opportunity by conducting their own research and collaborating with leaders from the public and private sectors. Their most recent publication, Four Visions For The Future Of Digital Money, discusses that despite the volatility in cryptocurrency markets over the past year, the tokenization of financial assets and deposits and the development of central bank digital currencies (CBDCs) by most of the world’s largest economies still has tremendous long-term potential to transform finance.
Paradigms For A Changing Competitive Landscape
The Oliver Wyman report presents four paradigms based on the issuers of money, the technology they choose, and the use cases they target. These paradigms are meant to support scenario planning and are likely to coexist. They are not comprehensive and do not cover every possibility, such as a future in which cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin become a major part of the payments system.
OW recommends that policymakers and senior leaders in the financial industry, both incumbents and disruptors, should consider a range of plausible future scenarios, evaluate their potential impact, plan responses for the most likely developments, and consider how to bring about the most desirable outcomes. This process may play out quite differently across cross-border payments, asset settlement, and retail domestic payments.
From Paradigms to Solutions
Competing forms of money will feature different business models and economics for their issuers and will need to win the trust of users that nominal value can be maintained. Generally, issuers make a profit by earning an interest margin on the assets backing the money and by collecting fees on payments, transactions, and bundled services, while ensuring trust by appropriately backing the issuance. In a world of higher interest rates, the economic value generated from facilitating payments becomes more attractive.
Emerging Use Cases
The report goes on to discuss how future use cases will likely combine elements of some or all of the four paradigms. Three use cases stand out as most likely to play out: cross-border payments, asset settlement, and domestic retail payments.
The paradigms presented in this paper can help banks, businesses, and policymakers as they consider their next steps, but they aren’t mutually exclusive. We are likely to see some if not all of these types of money coexist and play a growing role, depending on whether they are being used for retail transactions at the corner store or to finance multi-billion-dollar cross-border trade deals or investments.