Former CFTC chair says a tokenized dollar could be a better way to hand out relief money

Quick Take

  • J. Christopher Giancarlo pitched his Digital Dollar project again today at CoinDesk’s Consensus conference
  • In important ways, the token-based proposal is distinct from the “digital dollar” that House Democrats floated in March
  • The group is still trying to figure out the best privacy-related technical design choices 

A tokenized U.S. dollar would make it easier for the government to put money into the hands of people who need it during crises like the COVID-19 pandemic, according to a high-profile lobbying group that's trying to make a digitized USD a reality.

The Digital Dollar Project is headed by J. Christopher Giancarlo – former chair of the U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC), Daniel Gorfine – who served with Giancarlo as the CFTC's first Chief Innovation Officer – and David Treat, global blockchain lead for Accenture. Giancarlo first revealed details about the project this January during the World Economic Forum in Davos. On Monday, the trio pitched the project once more via live stream during the CoinDesk's Consensus conference.

Giancarlo said that his time as CFTC chair convinced him that much of America's financial market infrastructure is outdated. That has global implications, particularly in light of China's plans to issue a central bank digital currency (CBDC). It also raises issues domestically, as the COVID-19 pandemic has exposed. 

"Money is a public good," he said, adding that, with a digital dollar at its disposal, the government could distribute stimulus money more accurately, a reference to