The National Bank of Ukraine recently laid out its vision for e-hryvina. E-hryvina is the central bank digital currency (CBDC) version of its native currency, the hyrvina. Kitco recently interviewed the deputy chairman of the National Bank, Oleksiy Shaban about this new development.
According to Shaban, “the CBDC would help ensure economic security and strengthen Ukraine’s monetary sovereignty and would also strengthen the National Bank’s ability to maintain prices and financial stability “as a guarantee of sustainable economic growth.”
e-hyryvina for Digital Commerce
The creation of e-hyrvina fits into a global trend of national banks creating CBDCs. This effort is to facilitate a more complete transition to digital commerce. PaymentsJournal has previously written about how CBDCs are helpful, especially in cross-border transactions.
Shaban also noted that digital currencies are an important step on moving away from cash. And they are a step towards a more transparent financial system. He told Kitco:
“The development and implementation of the e-hryvnia can be the next step in the evolution of the payment infrastructure of Ukraine, it will contribute to the digitalization of the economy, the further spread of cashless payments, the reduction of their cost, the increase in the level of their transparency and the increase of trust in the national currency in general,”
e-Cash for the Unbanked
The idea of a CBDC is to have an electronic form of cash. People can use it without necessarily needing a bank account, just like cash is used today. Today, many unbanked people participate in the economy with cash, making them dependent upon cash. With the shift towards digital payments, this environment may exclude these populations from the economy. The idea of a Central Bank Digital Currency (CBDC) is to have an electronic form of cash – e-cash. People could use the e-cash without a bank account, just like people use cash today. If that were the case, those groups could continue to participate in the economy without suffering a penalty. ,Ukraine’s move towards a CBDC is a good step towards guaranteeing financial inclusion in the country as it moves toward its digital future.
Yet “CBDCs are not without their detractors,” notes Steve Murphy, Director of Commercial and Enterprise Payments at Mercator Advisory Group. “In the United Sates, the e-dollar remains in preliminary testing mode. If it is actually launched, privacy concerns would most likely result in legislation to require bank distribution, rather than a direct account with the Federal Reserve.” While CBDCs present an opportunity to support financial inclusion, they need to be carefully controlled by central banks, so that privacy concerns don’t sink their rollout.