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This paper analyzes the geopolitical and strategic dimensions of how technology is reshaping the international monetary and payments systems. Freezing some US$300 billion of Russia’s central bank reserves in response to the invasion of Ukraine in 2022 highlighted the power of the existing Western-led digital monetary and payments architecture and the potential risks of dependence on that system. We analyze the new technologies which could underpin a new international monetary system, not dominated by a monetary hegemon. The geopolitics of a multipolar world coupled to the evolution of enabling technologies may well result in a small number of major economy central bank digital currencies and currency areas, eliminating the historical pattern of monetary hegemony. There is a clear need to redesign systems to reduce this likelihood and support international monetary and payment arrangements as a public good and we explore how this might be achieved.
Keywords: Sovereign digital currencies, central bank digital currencies, Libra, Diem, digital yuan, e-CNY, Covid-19, payments, blockchain, distributed ledger technology, SWIFT, CHIPS, IMF, SDR, Bank for International Settlements.
Douglas W. Arner is a Senior Fellow of the Asia Global Institute, Kerry Holdings Professor in Law, RGC Senior Fellow in Digital Finance and Sustainable Development, and Associate Director of the HKU-Standard Chartered Foundation FinTech Academy as well as principal of the Reg/Tech Lab at the University of Hong Kong.
Ross P Buckley is the KPMG Law – King & Wood Mallesons Professor of Disruptive Innovation, Australian Research Council Laureate Fellow, and Scientia Professor at the University of New South Wales, Sydney.
Anton N Didenko is Senior Lecturer at the Faculty of Law and Justice of the University of New South Wales, Sydney.
Dirk A Zetzsche is Professor of Law, ADA Chair in Financial Law (Inclusive Finance), Faculty of Law, Economics and Finance at the University of Luxembourg, and Director, Centre for Business and Corporate Law at Heinrich-Heine University, Düsseldorf, Germany.
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