CBDCs vs. Crypto assets: Grasping the Distinctions

Zebpay
3 min readMay 13, 2024

Crypto assets, often referred to as “crypto,” have become a prominent presence in the digital world. These digital assets are constructed on blockchain technology, a digital ledger that securely records crypto-related information within blocks. The data stored on a blockchain can encompass various records or even execute complex programs like smart contracts. Crypto tokens represent assets that have undergone tokenization on the blockchain. They serve a multitude of purposes, serving as a medium of exchange in select jurisdictions and as a store of wealth. Crypto tokens also come in different types, including native platform tokens, utility tokens, transactional tokens, governance tokens, NFTs (Non-Fungible Tokens), and security tokens.

Conversely, Central Bank Digital Currencies (CBDCs) are digital currencies under the control and issuance of a nation’s central bank. CBDCs derive their value from a fixed rate determined and regulated by the central bank. While CBDCs share similarities with stablecoins, they differ significantly in their operation. Stablecoins are typically tethered to a fiat currency or a commodity to ensure a stable value over time, and they operate in a decentralized manner. In contrast, CBDCs are exclusively issued and managed by central banks.

CBDCs serve multiple purposes in enhancing the financial landscape for consumers. They offer advantages such as increased financial security, enhanced privacy, improved accessibility, and heightened convenience. Moreover, they reduce the costs associated with cross-border transactions, streamline the maintenance of complex financial systems, and provide a low-cost alternative for conducting transactions.

Comparing CBDCs and crypto assets

Blockchain Technology

Crypto assets operate on permissionless or blockchains, where transaction records are visible to all users (in the case of public blockchains). In contrast, CBDCs utilize private, authorized networks for their transactions.

Decentralisation

CBDCs are subject to regulations established by central banks, whereas the direction and future of blockchain protocols for crypto assets are determined by the consensus process among their users, fostering a decentralized nature.

Anonymity

Crypto users enjoy a degree of anonymity, whereas CBDC users are linked to existing bank accounts and do not maintain anonymity.

Scalability

In theory, CBDCs hold the potential for greater scalability as they operate on a permissioned network, akin to traditional databases. However, this scalability advantage remains unproven due to their nascent stage of adoption.

Use Cases

CBDCs primarily serve as a means for monetary transactions, such as payments, whereas crypto assets have dual utility as both payment instruments and investment assets.

The introduction of CBDCs can have significant implications for the adoption and regulation of digital assets like crypto assets. On one hand, CBDCs may promote the acceptance of digital assets by integrating them into traditional financial systems. On the other hand, the rise of CBDCs may also usher in more stringent regulations surrounding crypto assets, as governments seek to maintain control and stability in the financial landscape.

It is important to note that we are currently in the early stages of adoption for both CBDCs and crypto assets. The future will unveil how these digital innovations influence each other’s adoption rates and regulatory environments. As these technologies continue to evolve, stakeholders must remain attentive to the changing dynamics of the digital financial landscape.

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Disclaimer: Crypto products and NFTs are unregulated and can be highly risky. There may be no regulatory recourse for any loss from such transactions. Each investor must do his/her own research or seek independent advice if necessary before initiating any transactions in crypto products and NFTs. The views, thoughts, and opinions expressed in the article belong solely to the author, and not to ZebPay or the author’s employer or other groups or individuals. ZebPay shall not be held liable for any acts or omissions, or losses incurred by the investors. ZebPay has not received any compensation in cash or kind for the above article and the article is provided “as is”, with no guarantee of completeness, accuracy, timeliness or of the results obtained from the use of this information.

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