Chris Giancarlo stepped down as chairman of the Commodity and Future Trading Commission nine months ago, but now he has a new focus: promoting a U.S. central bank digital currency issued by the Federal Reserve.
Often referred to as “Crypto Dad” for his fondness of the cryptocurrency space, Giancarlo on Thursday announced the launch of a nonprofit to promote the idea of a digital dollar.
“The digital 21st century is underserved by an analog reserve currency,” Giancarlo said in the announcement. “A digital dollar would help future-proof the greenback and allow individuals and global enterprises to make payments in dollars irrespective of space and time.”
Dubbed the Digital Dollar Foundation, the nonprofit’s aim is to encourage research and public discussion into the potential of tokenizing the U.S. dollar as a digital currency, Giancarlo said.
Joining him as founders of the foundation are his brother Charles Giancarlo, a longtime Silicon Valley executive, and Daniel Gorfine, a former CFTC official.
The foundation’s main initiative is the Digital Dollar Project, which it officially launched on Thursday in partnership with Accenture. Ultimately, the goal of the initiative is to develop a framework for practical steps that can be taken to establish a dollar central bank digital currency.
Accenture will serve as lead architect and technology innovation partner in the project. It will be represented in the project by Dave Treat, a senior managing director and co-lead of Accenture’s Blockchain Business.
The aim of the project is to “catalyze a digital, tokenized U.S. currency that would coexist with other Federal Reserve liabilities and serve as a settlement medium to meet the demands of the new digital world and a cheaper, faster and more inclusive global financial system,” Giancarlo said.
In an opinion piece he cowrote with Gorfine for for the Wall Street Journal in October, Giancarlo said he believes the U.S. is falling behind in the race for a digital currency. Social media giant Facebook’s Libra project spurred on central banks of the world, many of which are looking into or already working on their own versions of digital currency.
“As their networks grow, they could eventually erode the dollar’s status as the most popular currency for international exchange,” he wrote. A digital dollar would be critical in maintaining this advantage.
Race to be first
The launch of the Digital Dollar Project comes at a time when central banks around the world are exploring options for digital currencies. Notably, China aims to be the first to launch a central bank digital currency. It recently announced that it has completed the “top design” of its digital yuan.
However, Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell in November poured cold water on the idea of a U.S. issued central bank digital currency happening anytime soon. He called the idea pointless and said the problems a CBCD could solve are largely limited to poorer developing countries.
Finance professionals don’t agree with him. A recent survey found many predict that the U.S. will be first in launching a CBDC. But given how far the U.S. lags behind the world in the adoption of digital payments technologies, such as contactless cards, that remains to be seen.