There was little splash or fanfare…
And with investors still reeling from the messy collapse of FTX… and stocks and bonds stuck in brutal bear markets…
I’d forgive you for not noticing.
But it happened. The Fed launched a digital dollar pilot program.
Now, if you’re a regular reader, you probably knew this was coming.
I’ve written before about the Fed’s desire to move away from physical cash and towards a central bank digital currency (CBDC).
That said, that desire had been pretty theoretical and wishy-washy. But not anymore…
With a CBDC pilot program in motion, the Fed just took a giant step towards its ultimate goal: the digital dollar, or “Fed coin.”
So today, I want to pull back the curtain on this massive development and show you what it means for you.
But first, if you haven’t saved your spot at my Countdown to Housing Crisis 2.0 strategy session… be sure to RSVP with one click right here.
On Tuesday, December 13 at 8 p.m. ET, I’ll reveal a little-known strategy I learned on Wall Street that could help you turn the coming housing crisis into big profits.
And I’ll even give you the name and ticker of an opportunity I believe could be one of the top plays of 2023 – for free. Just go here to automatically reserve your spot, and I’ll see you on December 13.
Now, back to the Fed coin…
The Regulated Liability Network
The Fed is kicking off the pilot in partnership with nine global finance giants, plus SWIFT.
SWIFT, as you might know, is a major international payments network. What’s more, the technology for this pilot program is powered by Amazon Web Services.
In other words, the entities involved are some serious heavy hitters.
Mastercard is on that list, too. And so are banks like BNY Mellon, Citi, Wells Fargo, and HSBC. They’re all working together on a 12-week pilot program for the new digital dollar.
The project was originally proposed by a managing director at Citigroup, Tony McLaughlin, in his paper “The Regulated Internet of Value.”
It’s aptly named the Regulated Liability Network (RLN). And it’s spearheaded by the Fed’s New York branch.
I say “aptly” because a digital Fed coin has the potential to become a test of the biggest liability for our freedoms. But more on that in a moment…
First, what’s the idea behind the pilot?
Well, the Fed basically wants to know how using digital dollar tokens in a distributed ledger can speed up payments. That distributed ledger is better known as a blockchain.
So, the idea is to make use of blockchain tech to make settlements between banks… through their Fed reserves… as they exchange simulated digital tokens. These tokens represent customer deposits.
The banks will also run the pilot as a simulation next to existing transactions. In other words, the pilot will mimic real-world banking transactions. And it will follow existing legislation to test the legal viability of a CBDC.
This means the pilot group will have to figure out a way to apply know-your-customer (KYC), anti-money laundering (AML) and a myriad of other laws and regulations to the blockchain that the digital dollar will run on.
If getting that all up and running sounds complicated, that’s because it is. But here’s the kicker.
The Fed also said that the “project could potentially be extended to multi-currency operations and regulated stablecoins.”
As you may recall, a stablecoin is a cryptocurrency that is pegged to a “stable” reserve asset, like the U.S. dollar.
That’s one of those things that just makes you go “Hmm.” Think about it…
On the one hand, you have the most epic collapse and fraud in crypto history. Yes, I’m talking about FTX, the leading crypto exchange that collapsed last month – and whose founder is now likely on the run.
On the other hand, you have the Fed basically saying, “Hey, we could onboard your stablecoin cryptocurrency if it’s a regulated one”.
So, at a time when millions of people are locked out of their money thanks to greedy fraudsters like FTX… the Fed and its big bank pals swoop in and say, “We’ll take it from here.”
Now, as I’ve said before, government regulators sure were asleep at the wheel with FTX. But I’m not one for conspiracy theories.
So do I think that the government held off on regulating the crypto space because they wanted it to collapse… so that people would be begging for a Fed alternative?
I don’t. But it’s still excellent timing to push on the CBDC front.
Programmed to Do What?
As I’ve said before, CBDCs would help strengthen central banks’ grip over the financial system. That’s because CBDCs will be highly centralized and capable of processing more information, faster.
Sure, they could also offer some advantages.
They might come in handy if you need to receive a stimulus check… or apply for a government emergency loan for your business.
CBDCs could even support new business models and provide a foundation to jumpstart innovations in the financial sector.
Do the potential benefits outweigh the potential dangers? I don’t think they do. But the truth is, we just don’t know for sure at this stage.
Nonetheless, here’s what Citigroup’s Tony McLaughlin – the guy who conceived the Regulated Liability Network – said on the day the Fed’s pilot launched:
Projects like this, that focus on the digitization of central bank money and individual bank deposits, could be expanded to take a broader view of the opportunity.
“Broader view of the opportunity”? This sounds like more financial gobbledygook designed to hide the true nature of the Fed’s CBDC playbook.
If you’re a skeptical person, this could include any number of things to give the banks and government almost unbreakable financial control over your life.
For example, you might suspect that CBDCs could eventually be programmed so that they are only spendable if the holder of those funds meets certain requirements.
But we’ll just have to wait to find out.
What This Means for Your Money
It’s inevitable that the U.S. will adopt a digital dollar at some point.
The Fed’s pilot is focused on the wholesale banking segment, as opposed to retail. The idea is to simplify interbank settlements.
Still, it brings us one giant step closer to the rollout of the digital dollar for all. So if you ever need another reason to add Bitcoin as a speculative asset in your portfolio, this is one.
As regular readers know, a digital dollar could become the perfect trigger to cause more widespread adoption of Bitcoin.
For one, despite all the recent mayhem and chaos in the crypto space, the Fed is clearly not losing faith in the concept.
The central bank’s willingness to extend its CBDC pilot to stablecoins – which I wrote to you above – is a case in point.
And, with time, as people become more comfortable with the Fed coin, it will become easier for them to adopt Bitcoin.
That said, if you’re looking to dip a toe in crypto, this still isn’t the time to dive into Bitcoin headfirst. With so much uncertainty in the market, I’d wait out this turmoil just a little longer.
If you hold Bitcoin, my advice is to stay patient, too, and ride out this volatility.
In the meantime, steer clear of private companies like FTX when it comes to storing your crypto.
Whenever possible, choose companies that are transparent about their reserves. As well as public companies with a longer track record of success.
At the top of that list for me is Block (formerly Square), one of our model portfolio holdings at Distortion Report.
It launched its first trading platform in 2010 and added Bitcoin trading in 2018. And, compared to other companies with ties to crypto, it has been relatively unscathed by FTX.
Editor, Inside Wall Street with Nomi Prins
P.S. An event happening in Washington this month could trigger a major housing crisis – similar to what happened in 2008. The good news is, you don’t have to get caught on the losing side of it…
As I mentioned up top, I’m hosting a special strategy session on Tuesday, December 13 at 8 p.m. ET. It’s my last one of 2022, and I’m going to show you how we can turn this crisis into an opportunity.
I’ll reveal a little-known strategy I learned on Wall Street that could help you turn this crisis into big profits. And I’ll even give you the name and ticker of an opportunity I believe could be one of the top plays of 2023 – for free. Just go here to reserve your spot with one click, and I’ll see you on December 13.