Powell calls cryptocurrencies 'not helpful stores of value' and says Fed will move slowly

Powell-calls-cryptocurrencies -not-helpful-stores-of-value'-and-says-Fed-will-move-slowly

March 23, 2021: On Monday, Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell said that cryptocurrencies remain an unstable store of value, and the central bank is not in a hurry to introduce a competitor.

“They’re highly volatile and therefore not useful stores of value, and they’re not backed by anything,” Powell said in a virtual panel discussion on digital banking hosted by the Bank for International Settlements.

Powell spoke when bitcoin was decreasing on Coinbase but still trading around $57,000 a piece. The cryptocurrency has soared in price over the last seven months amid a flurry in trading activity and growing acceptance in the financial industry.

In the past years, the Fed worked on its own payments system that facilitates the fast transfer of money, with the unveiling of the product to happen in the next two years.

Regarding the latter issue, Powell said, Fed is taking time before moving into anything.

“To move forward on this, we would need buy-in from Congress, from the administration, from broad elements of the public, and we haven’t begun the job of that public engagement,” he said.

Last year, the Boston Fed entered into a partnership with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology on a multi-year study into creating a central bank digital currency. The work will take two to three years and even then is focused on the hypotheticals of a foremost bank-sponsored cryptocurrency rather than imminent implementation.

Powell said Congress likely would have to pass some enabling legislation before the Fed could proceed with its currency.

He noted that the Covid-19 pandemic emphasized the importance of developing better payment systems so money can get quickly to those in need.

“It highlighted across a whole range of things the disparate impact of so many things on poor and lower and moderate-income communities,” Powell said.

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