Wall Street giant Morgan Stanley believes the rise of Central Bank Digital Currencies (CBDCs) and digital assets like Bitcoin and stablecoins could potentially disrupt the U.S. dollar’s longstanding dominance in the global economy.
The lender made the analysis in a recent report titled “Digital (De)Dollarization?” — which highlights the disproportionate influence of the U.S. dollar in global finance and the existential threat posed by digital currencies and CBDCs.
Dollar’s slipping dominance
Despite the U.S. contributing about 25% of global GDP, the dollar constitutes nearly 60% of global foreign exchange reserves. However, this dominance is now under scrutiny, partly due to the U.S.’s growing twin deficits and strategic economic sanctions prompting nations to seek dollar alternatives.
The European Union and China are making strides to bolster the euro and yuan in international trade. The EU focuses on enhancing the euro’s role, especially in energy and commodity transactions. China is promoting the yuan through its Cross-Border Interbank Payment System, challenging the dollar-centric payment systems.
Meanwhile, other countries have created the BRICS organization to develop non-dollar methods of trade among each other, while Russia has been looking into using private digital currencies for some cross-border trades.
The report suggests that the ascent of digital currencies and CBDCs represents a significant challenge to the traditional dominance of the dollar in international finance. These emerging technologies offer more efficient, transparent, and accessible financial solutions, potentially reducing reliance on traditional banking systems and the dollar in international transactions and reserves.
Rise of the digital currencies
The report analyzes the potential impact of these digital currencies and CBDCs on the global financial system. It posits that as these technologies gain acceptance and usage, they could offer practical alternatives to traditional cash and fiat currencies.
This shift is poised to reduce the reliance on the dollar for international transactions and central bank reserves, potentially altering the balance of global economic power.
According to the report, Bitcoin, with its decentralized nature and capped supply, has evolved from a niche online concept to a globally recognized asset, with an adoption rate of 106 million owners worldwide. The flagship cryptocurrency’s expanding global reach and national adoption by countries like El Salvador as legal tender signals a historic shift in national financial strategies.
Morgan Stanley also pointed to the growing usage of stablecoins, which accounted for transactions amounting to $10 trillion in payments in 2022, as another sign of the shifting landscape. Stablecoins are increasingly becoming the go-to payment method due to their 24/7 access and instant settlement.
Furthermore, their integration into payment systems of companies like Visa and PayPal is another sign of their growing importance in the global financial ecosystem.
CBDCs could supplant the dollar
The report also delves into the rapid development of CBDCs and their potential impact on the dollar’s market dominance.
Over 111 countries are exploring these digital versions of their national currencies, which could revolutionize financial systems. China’s digital yuan and Brazil’s DREX are examples of how CBDCs could facilitate more efficient and inclusive financial transactions.
According to Morgan Stanley, the rise of CBDCs could streamline cross-border payments, reducing reliance on traditional financial intermediaries like SWIFT and, by extension, the use of dominant currencies like the dollar.
The report points to the mBridge project, involving central banks from multiple countries, as an example of how CBDCs can facilitate efficient cross-border settlements using smart contracts.
Morgan Stanley’s analysis points to a future where CBDCs and other private digital currencies offer viable alternatives to traditional cash and fiat currencies. This shift could gradually reduce the dollar’s role in international finance, influenced by digital innovation and shifting geopolitical dynamics.
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Author: Assad Jafri