UK banking group HSBC has outlined how it believes the blockchain could be used to facilitate or enhance unconventional central bank policies.
Business Insider reports that, according to a draft document it obtained, HSBS is discussing the idea that central banks could push for blockchain-based digital currency systems in order to capitalize on transaction transparency and create a clearer picture of a country's financial system.
That information could then be used to conduct so-called "helicopter drops" – targeted cash injections into the real economy via consumer bank account deposits or tax refunds.
Supporters of the concept say that the money would move into the real economy faster compared to the private credit sector route, a move economist Milton Friedman famously compared to flying over a town and dropping bills from a helicopter.
As BI quotes the HSBC document:
"Online e-commerce stores are able to give out loans to merchants without collateral, because they know all the flows already from the merchants' point of view: from how much people are spending to the conversion rate of pages viewed to purchases," the HSBC note continues. "In the same way, a modernised monetary transmission system, based on real-time big data analysis through blockchain, could allow the government to balance the economy more efficiently and systematically."
In theory, this transparency could give a central bank the ability to tailor how much cash it wants to inject into an economy at a given time. BI notes that part of the problem is that too much cash added to the public money supply could kickstart inflationary issues.
"HSBC outlines the trust problem with helicopter money — in short, people are rightly skeptical of a central bank's ability to work out how much help the economy actually needs," BI reports. "If it's too much, helicopter money could be wildly inflationary."
A representative for the bank was not immediately available for comment.
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