Congressman Jim Himes puts out white paper for digital dollar

With heightened political attention on digitizing the dollar, one member of Congress has laid out his vision.

On June 22, Rep. Jim Himes (D-CT) released a white paper called "Winning the Future of Money: A Proposal for a US Central Bank Digital Currency." It includes a general summation of CBDC adoption globally, as well as the traditional appraisal of pros and cons of a CBDC. However, the white paper is clearly supportive on Congress' move to authorize the Federal Reserve to issue a CBDC. 

“The longer the United States government waits to embrace this innovation, the further we fall behind both foreign governments and the private sector," Himes said in a statement.

A moderate, Himes sits on the House Financial Services Committee, which recently held testimony from the Federal Reserve's vice chair, Lael Brainard. Chairwoman Maxine Waters (D-CA) at the time declared of CBDCs that “America can’t be left behind,” a sentiment that Himes' proposal echoes in its title.

As that hearing illustrated, the subject of a CBDC has become increasingly partisan, with Republicans concerned about greater financial surveillance and Fed involvement in the economy. 

Today's whitepaper highlights that "a U.S. CBDC would present novel and serious privacy challenges." While Himes' proposal maintains the need for commercial banks to handle retail user accounts, it specifies an "account-based" rather than "token-based" structure, entailing "strong user identification processes that require intermediaries to certify the identity of wallet holders."

Himes is just the latest to throw his hat into the ring on the issue of digital cash. Stephen Lynch (), also of the Financial Services Committee and the chair of the FinTech Task Force, recently introduced a proposal for E-Cash, using a non-blockchain system of private wallets.