Ecuador CBDC Tracker

CBDC Information

Economic Information



Country Information

Freedom Rankings

Cato and Fraser Human Freedom Index:


Freedom House Index:


Reporters Without Borders Freedom Index:


Ecuador is in the research phase. Despite the Banco Central del Ecuador launching a project similar to a CBDC in 2014, that project was shut down in 2018. Therefore, with no signs of current experimentation, Ecuador is now considered to only be in the research phase.

CBDC History and Development

In 2014, the Banco Central del Ecuador launched a mobile payment system referred to as the “sistema de dinero electrónico,” or electronic money system. Starting on December 23, 2014, citizens over the age of 18 could open accounts on their mobile phones to access the system. This announcement marked the first of three phases. It is important to note that whether the dinero electrónico is truly a CBDC is a debatable subject considering it was based on the U.S. dollar rather than its own domestic currency. Furthermore, the dinero electrónico appears to be more akin to a payment system than a form of money. As the Banco Central del Ecuador explained at the time, it was not a new currency, but rather a way to spend U.S. dollars electronically.

In 2015, the second phase of the dinero electrónico involved processing transactions, receipts, and bank transfers. Then, in the second half of 2015, the third phase involved allowing citizens to pay utility bills and tax obligations.

In 2016, trust began to wane in the system. Gabriela Calderón de Burgos, El Universo economic columnist, wrote that the system provided a new avenue for “excessive and irresponsible” monetary policy and that the system “does not inspire confidence.” Shortly after, Calderón de Burgos wrote again to warn that “The government has intensified its campaign [but] the campaign will have little success because of the justified distrust that the government and the [Banco Central del Ecuador] have earned in terms of their ability to take care of others’ funds.” Later reports seemed to confirm this analysis when merchants said that they avoided the system because they did not trust holding an account with the central bank.

In 2018, the dinero electrónico was officially shut down after Ecuador’s National Assembly passed legislation in December 2017 to decommission the system and open the market to private sector alternatives. At its peak, the dinero electrónico had 500,000 users, but it was also reported that 71 percent of the accounts had gone unused. Lawrence White, a professor of economics, described the decision saying, “The substitution of open competition for state monopoly in mobile money is an important victory for the people of Ecuador. The entire episode is important internationally for the lesson it teaches us about the limits to a central bank’s ability to launch a new form of money when the public prefers established forms.”

Human Rights and Civil Liberties Concerns

Ecuador earned a 70 out of 100 in Freedom House’s 2023 Freedom in the World report. As it stands, the existence of pervasive corruption is the biggest concern that the issuance of a CBDC in Ecuador could exacerbate.

“Ecuador has long been racked by corruption, and the weak judiciary and lack of investigative capacity in government oversight agencies contribute to an environment of impunity,” according to Freedom House. In fact, Freedom House further reported that the cost of corruption between 2007 and 2019 is estimated to be around $68 billion. The existence of pervasive corruption is a major concern with CBDCs because it calls into question any promises that might be made by the government to limit surveillance, control, or other risks of CBDCs. Furthermore, the existence of corruption calls into question whether CBDC policies might be designed to exert political favoritism through subsidies, price controls, or other targeted restrictions.

For additional information on concerns regarding violations of human rights and civil liberties, see the following reports by Amnesty International, Financial Tyranny Index, Freedom House, Human Rights Watch, Privacy International, and the U.S. Department of State. For additional information on concerns regarding the risks of CBDCs, see the following webpage and report by the Cato Institute: The Risks of CBDCs and Central Bank Digital Currency: Assessing the Risks and Dispelling the Myths.

For additional information regarding metrics, the methodology page explains each of the data points and provides their respective sources.