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Online seminar – The Digitalization of Money

On the 27th of August, the Florence School of Banking and Finance invited Jean-Pierre Landau to deliver a presentation on ‘The Digitalization of Money’ in an online seminar.

Dr. Landau is currently a Senior Research Fellow at the Harvard Kennedy School and Associate Professor of Economics at SciencesPo (Paris). He has worked in the French Government for most of his career, serving as Deputy Governor of the Banque de France (2006-2011), Executive Director of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank (Washington) as well as Undersecretary at the Ministry of Finance.

In his presentation, Dr. Landau discussed the future of money, in light of the technical innovations enabled by mobile technology and the internet, which result in the development of new forms of money, while digital networks and platforms have the potential to transform and disrupt financial intermediation more broadly.

The seminar started with the definition of digital money (or e-money, as opposed to digital wallets) which could lead the transformation towards a financial structure that on one side would revolutionize the relationship between banks and private citizens, while on the other side could also create a new international monetary system. In this complex scenario, Dr. Landau addressed the issues of anonymity and regulation, particularly relevant in the case of private digital currency issuers, as well as how the respective role of public and private money could be affected, ultimately advocating for the idea of ‘public digital money’ – Digital Central Banks Currencies (CBDCs) launched by central banks.

The lively Q&A session that followed highlighted how, despite therer is a general consensus that digitalization will broadly change the nature and function of money in our societies, at this point in time the opinion of the experts and the general public alike is still divided on how e-money should evolve. Polled on the future scenarios, 55% of the participants agreed that ‘life without a bank’ can be a realistic scenario for future generations. Asked about Libra, the digital currency sponsored by Facebook, only 46% of the audience stated that it should be allowed to operate.