Citigroup Helping World Governments Build Digital Currencies, CEO Says

The multinational banking giant has been calling digital currency all but inevitable since 2014.

Dec 4, 2020 at 4:41 p.m. UTC
Updated Sep 14, 2021 at 10:38 a.m. UTC

Citigroup Chief Executive Michael Corbat said his bank is helping governments "around the world" in creating sovereign digital currencies, otherwise known as central bank digital currencies, or CBDC.

Speaking to David Rubenstein at a Friday Bloomberg event, Corbat made clear CBDCs are an "inevitable" development in the future of money. Citigroup, the multinational banking giant, is helping bring that future about.

"We've been working with governments around the world in terms of the creation and commercialization" of sovereign digital currencies, he said.

Corbat did not disclose Citigroup's government partners.

Citi spokesperson Danielle Romero Apsilos said Citigroup is "actively participating" in CBDC consultations being held by central banks.

"As a significant practitioner in the payments market with connections to over 200 clearing systems, Citi is providing experience-based insights into the design choices involved in the formulation of digital currencies," she said.

Citigroup's press office did not immediately return a request for comment on the extent of the partnerships.

Cryptocurrencies will have a role to play even the age of CBDCs, Corbat said Friday. He stopped short of commenting on bitcoin specifically. But he said that "some of these currencies will be continued alternatives, continued different sources of payment that people can take advantage of based on the underlying nature of what they are" – a seeming reference to stablecoins.

The Friday disclosure reveals Citigroup as the latest private-sector company active in developing public sector digital currencies. Financial services firms Mastercard and Visa have both launched CBDC initiatives in the past year.

Three years ago, Corbat predicted CBDCs would arise as a direct response to the threat posed by bitcoin. His bank has been researching digital currencies since at least 2014.

UPDATE (12/4/20 6:20PM EST): This article has been updated with additional comment from Citi.

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