Cross-Border Payments—A Vision for the Future

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DATE: October 19, 2020

DAY: Monday

8:00 AM - 9:00 AM


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This seminar would discuss potential solutions to enhancing cross-border payments, the benefits and risks of cross-border use of digital currencies, and their macro-financial implications. Enhancing cross-border payments has become an important global policy agenda, to counter fragmentation and to facilitate continued orderly functioning of the international trade and financial system.

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Cross-Border Payments—A Vision for the Future

The panel discussed the advent of digital currencies and its implications for the future of cross-border payments. Discussants focused on the benefits and challenges associated with the central bank digital currency (CBDC), the importance of global policy coordination, and the role of the private sector.

Key Points:

  • CBDCs tradeoffs. With many central banks investigating possibility of issuing CBDCs, the panelists stressed that careful consideration should be given to CBDCs’ costs and benefits. Powell noted the U.S. Federal Reserve takes a cautious approach and has not yet decided on introducing CBDCs. He stressed that besides benefits, there are also some difficult policy and operational questions that need to be thoroughly evaluated, including cyber-attacks as well as the impact on monetary policy and financial stability. Carstens echoed the importance to “go slow,” noting that careful design could help avoid threats to the international monetary system due to fragmentation or adverse spillovers. Alkholifey noted that CBDCs could help enhance the resilience and efficiency of cross-border payments, and that Saudi Arabia has launched a pilot project with the United Arab Emirates to explore how modern technologies could help improve cross-border payments.
  • Policy coordination. Although issuing CBDCs is a national decision, the discussants highlighted the importance of global policy collaboration on this cutting-edge topic. Powell emphasized that collaboration with other central banks on CBDCs is vital. Carstens argued that a huge challenge for CBDCs is to ensure efficient cross-border operation, which necessitates international coordination along technological, legal, and other dimensions.
  • Private sector role. Given that the Libra project enlivened the CBDC discussions, the panelists also shed light on the role of the private sector. Nor Shamsiah stressed the contribution of the private sector in fostering innovation and providing value-added solutions to customers. Powell pointed to the need to work collaboratively with the private sector. He noted that the U.S. Federal Reserve is engaging with industry, research, and other stakeholders to advance the Fed’s work on digital currencies and cross-border payments.


“We have a chance to improve cross-border payments with huge benefits, especially for many of the world’s poorest people . And there is a pressing need to do so."  - Kristalina Georgieva

“It's more important for the United States to get it right than to be the first. Getting it right means we not only look at the potential benefits of CBDCs, but also the potential risks, and also recognize the important tradeoffs that have to be thought through carefully.”  - Jerome Powell


Moderator: Kristalina Georgieva

Kristalina Georgieva is the Managing Director of the International Monetary Fund (IMF). She is the first person from an emerging market economy to lead the IMF since its inception in 1944. Before joining the Fund, Ms. Georgieva was Chief Executive Officer of the World Bank and also served as Interim President for a time. Previously, she served at the European Commission as Vice President for Budget and Human Resources – and as Commissioner for International Cooperation, Humanitarian Aid and Crisis Response. She was named “European of the Year” and “Commissioner of the Year” by European Voice for her leadership in the European Union’s humanitarian response to crises.

Panelist: Ahmed Abdulkarim Alkholifey

Ahmed Abdulkarim Alkholifey Dr. Ahmed Abdulkarim Alkholifey is Governor of the Saudi Arabian Monetary Authority (Central Bank of Saudi Arabia). He started his career at the Saudi Arabian Ministry of Petroleum and Mineral Resources as a legal specialist and later as an economic researcher. Mr Alkholifey joined the Saudi Arabian Monetary Authority in 1995 and worked as economic adviser and director general of economic research and statistics department. In 2011, Mr Alkholifey was appointed executive director for Saudi Arabia at the International Monetary Fund and worked there until 2013, when he was appointed Deputy Governor for research and international affairs at the Saudi Arabian Monetary Authority. He was appointed Governor of the Saudi Arabian Monetary Authority in May 2016. He obtained his MBA and PhD in economics from Colorado State University in the USA.

Panelist: Agustín Carstens

Mr. Carstens was Governor of the Bank of Mexico from 2010 to 2017. A member of the BIS Board from 2011 to 2017, he was chair of the Global Economy Meeting and the Economic Consultative Council from 2013 until 2017. He also chaired the International Monetary and Financial Committee, the IMF's policy advisory committee from 2015 to 2017. Mr Carstens began his career in 1980 at the Bank of Mexico. From 1999 to 2000, he was Executive Director at the IMF. He later served as Mexico’s deputy finance minister (2000–03) and as Deputy Managing Director at the IMF (2003–06). He was Mexico's finance minister from 2006 to 2009. Mr Carstens has been a member of the Financial Stability Board since 2010 and is a member of the Group of Thirty. Mr Carstens holds an MA and a PhD in economics from the University of Chicago.

Panelist: Jerome Powell

Jerome H Powell

Mr. Jerome H. Powell took office as Chair of the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System on February 5, 2018, for a four-year term. Mr. Powell also serves as Chairman of the Federal Open Market Committee, the System's principal monetary policymaking body. Mr. Powell has served as a member of the Board of Governors since taking office on May 25, 2012, to fill an unexpired term. He was reappointed to the Board and sworn in on June 16, 2014, for a term ending January 31, 2028. Prior to his appointment to the Board, Mr. Powell was a visiting scholar at the Bipartisan Policy Center in Washington, D.C., where he focused on federal and state fiscal issues. From 1997 through 2005, Mr. Powell was a partner at The Carlyle Group. Mr. Powell served as an Assistant Secretary and as Under Secretary of the U.S. Department of the Treasury under President George H.W. Bush, with responsibility for policy on financial institutions, the Treasury debt market, and related areas. Prior to joining the Bush administration, Mr. Powell worked as a lawyer and investment banker in New York City. In addition to service on corporate boards, he has served on the boards of charitable and educational institutions, including the Bendheim Center for Finance at Princeton University and the Nature Conservancy of Washington, D.C., and Maryland. Mr. Powell was born in February 1953 in Washington, D.C. He received an AB in politics from Princeton University in 1975 and earned a law degree from Georgetown University in 1979. While at Georgetown, he was editor-in-chief of the Georgetown Law Journal. Mr. Powell is married with three children.

Panelist: Nor Shamsiah Yunus

Nor Shamsiah Mohd Yunus Ms. Nor Shamsiah is the Governor of Bank Negara Malaysia, assuming office on July 1, 2018. Prior to her appointment as Governor, she served as Assistant Director of the Monetary and Capital Markets Department of the International Monetary Fund. Ms. Nor Shamsiah joined Bank Negara Malaysia in 1987 and has served in various areas including prudential regulations, legislation, policies and guidelines for the financial sector and supervision. As Deputy Governor from 2010 to 2016, she was responsible for banking, insurance and Takaful supervision, financial intelligence and enforcement, talent management, finance and shared services of the central bank. She graduated from the University of South Australia with a Bachelor of Arts in Accountancy and is a Certified Practicing Accountant (CPA).