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The Ripple Effect of CBDCs on Bank Lending and Profitability

Report | March 25, 2024

BoC CBDC Banking and Anonymity - The Ripple Effect of CBDCs on Bank Lending and Profitability

Image: BoC Staff Working Report, CBDC: Banking and Anonymity

BoC Staff Paper Explores the Delicate Balance Between CBDC and Bank Lending

The Bank of Canada published a working staff paper on March 22, 2024 called 'CBDC:  Banking and Anonymity' that outlines the intricacies of CBDCs and their impact on traditional bank lending and financial stability.

See:  CBDCs in Canada and Impact Drivers on Banking Choices

The Bank of Canada's study exams how the design of CBDCs, particularly the degree of user anonymity they afford, could influence banking practices, credit allocation, and bank profitability.

The Anonymity Conundrum

When a CBDC offered by the central bank keeps who uses it somewhat secret, it changes how businesses act and how banks decide to give out loans. If the CBDC is a little bit private (modest level of anonymity), it might cause some issues. For example, both successful and less successful business owners might choose to use this digital money, leading banks to lend money without being as careful about who gets it.

The best level of privacy for this digital money depends on how it can help businesses. If the benefits are more like using cash, it should be more private. If the benefits are more like putting money in a bank, it should be less private.

Risks of Bank Disintermediation

The potential for CBDCs to substitute traditional bank deposits threatens to undermine the deposit-lending function of banks. This shift could curtail banks' lending abilities, thereby impacting their profit margins and stability.

See:  Republican Senators Move to Block CBDCs in U.S. (again)

Initial evidence suggests that the announcement of CBDC initiatives negatively affects bank stock prices, particularly those heavily reliant on deposit funding. This market response reflects concerns over banks' future lending capabilities and overall profitability in a CBDC-dominated financial landscape​.

Theoretical models indicate that CBDCs could exacerbate bank failure risks under certain conditions. When banks decide to pay more interest on the money people save with them, they often charge more for loans to make up for this. Also, when borrowers take bigger risks because they think they won't face the consequences, it can make loans riskier.  Both factors can affect how risky a loan is and, in turn, how much profit a bank can make. Banks have to balance making loans available without taking on too much risk.

Outlook

The implementation CBDCs into the financial ecosystem is a double-edged sword, offering unprecedented opportunities for efficiency and inclusivity while posing significant challenges to traditional banking models, and let's not forget privacy.

See:  Bank of Canada Publishes Staff Paper on ‘Unmet Payment Needs and CBDCs

Central banks must consider nuanced effects of CBDC design and their impact on traditional banking structures and lending practices as they look towards the future of banking and monetary policy.


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