This page explains the methodology behind the different metrics featured in the central bank digital currency (CBDC) tracker, the human rights and civil liberties concerns described, the details around the overall design of the tracker, and what to expect next. As a general note across all metrics, anywhere that says "N/A" means that there is no applicable data or no data available. These absences can be due to the unique nature of some areas, delays in reporting, or difficulties collecting consistent data.
Options include Launched, Pilot, Research, and None. While other trackers offer more indicators (e.g., proof of concept, development, inactive, etc.), those were ultimately considered a distraction for this tracker. A CBDC is considered launched once it is available to the public. That includes cases labeled as pilots if those pilots involve participation by the public (e.g., see China, India, and the like). A CBDC is in the pilot phase when countries announce that they have begun building CBDCs for limited and closed tests within an experimental environment. A CBDC is in the research phase once government officials announce initiatives, demonstrate consideration, or publish research. If no information is available or countries choose to do nothing, then they are marked as having no activity to note there is nothing going on.
While there are different variations available, this indicator is condensed to retail and wholesale CBDCs based on the end user. Models are only noted for CBDCs that have been launched.
For CBDCs that have been launched, this date marks when the CBDC became accessible to the public.
CBDC issued is defined as the stock of CBDC is that has been minted, or created, by the government. This measurement includes what is in circulation, and may include the amounts in government wallets, or accounts. Note: Not all CBDC data reported distinguishes between amounts in circulation (excluding amounts in government wallets) versus total CBDC minted (including amounts in government wallets). Data is sourced from national central banks.
Cash issued is defined as the stock of physical notes and coins that are issued and outstanding. Generally, this is analogous to "Currency issued" or "Currency in circulation" figures as published by each nation’s central bank. It refers to all of the notes and coins that are circulating in the economy (for example, in grocery store tills and personal wallets), plus the notes and coins sitting in commercial bank vaults. Data is sourced from national central banks.
The Monetary Base is the stock of "CBDC issued," plus "Cash issued," plus "Reserve balances" at each commercial bank. For reference, "Reserve balances" can be thought of as each bank’s "account" with its central bank. The "Monetary base" is thus the total "basic money" issued by the sovereign, or the state, in a nation’s economy. It is also known as "High-powered money" or "State money."
The Gross Domestic Product, or GDP, is a measure of the market value of all new and final goods and services produced in a specific time period by a country. Data is sourced from the World Bank, International Monetary Fund, and United Nations.
Inflation defined here is the general increase in prices of goods and services in an economy, over the trailing 12 months, as determined by a basket of goods, and typically measured by national statistics agencies. Data is sourced from the World Bank, International Monetary Fund, and United Nations.
Population is the number of people in a national area, typically measured annually according to various census data. Data is sourced from the World Bank, International Monetary Fund, and United Nations.
Freedom of Movement is based on the freedom of foreign movement, the freedom of movement for money, and the freedom of movement for women. Scores are represented as x out of 10. Please note that there is a two year lag with this data point due to the availability of the data that goes into it. A detailed explanation of the index can be found in the Cato Institute and Fraser Institute Human Freedom Index.
Size of Government takes into account government consumption, transfers and subsidies, government investment, the top marginal tax rate, and state ownership of assets. Scores are represented as x out of 10. Please note that there is a two year lag with this data point due to the availability of the data that goes into it. A detailed explanation of the index can be found in the Cato Institute and Fraser Institute Human Freedom Index.
Rule of Law takes into account procedural justice, civil justice, and criminal justice. Scores are represented as x out of 10. Please note that there is a two year lag with this data point due to the availability of the data that goes into it. A detailed explanation of the index can be found in the Cato Institute and Fraser Institute Human Freedom Index.
The data reported for "Cash issued," "CBDC issued," and the "Monetary base" are usually sourced from national central banks, each of which generally issues and regulates its own sovereign currency. However, there are three supranational currency unions included in our research. These are:
• Central bank: Bank of Central African States, headquartered in Yaoundé
• Currency: Central African CFA franc
• Members: Cameroon, Central African Republic, Chad, Equatorial Guinea, Gabon, and the Republic of the Congo.
• Central bank: The European Central Bank, headquartered in Frankfurt
• Currency: The euro
• Members: Austria, Belgium, Croatia, Cyprus, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, the Netherlands, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, and Spain.
• Central bank: Eastern Caribbean Central Bank, headquartered in Basseterre
• Currency: Eastern Caribbean dollar
• Members: Anguilla, Antigua and Barbuda, Dominica, Grenada, Montserrat, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines.
Please note that a currency union can be actively researching or piloting a CBDC without involvement from member countries. For example, in 2023, there have been different stances taken by the European Central Bank and the members of the Eurozone. However, if a currency union launches a CBDC, then all member countries are moved to the launched phase because there would then be an active CBDC in those countries.
When looking at the currency unions in the tracker, data is displayed in totality. However, the data can be broken down by veiwing each member state. With that said, it must be noted that not every currency union displays an exact breakdown of where all currency data is located and outstanding at any given time. Generally, all ‘Cash issued’ data is provided in a disaggregated form. Thus, some estimates of ‘CBDC issued’ and ‘Monetary base’ values in disaggregated form may be based on the relevant data provided for ‘Cash issued’ for each member state. As well, if adding up each member state’s currency data (for example, ‘Cash issued’) is attempted, it may not equal the entire total of the currency union, as some additional currency may still be issued and outstanding from the central bank’s headquarters itself (and thus present a gap between the union total, and the sum of each member state). Consider these factors when viewing a currency union’s individual member state’s currency data, as well as our data snapshots for each currency union in totality.
The descriptions for each country were based on reports by Amnesty International, Financial Tyranny Index, Freedom House, Human Rights Watch, Privacy International, and the U.S. Department of State. It is highly recommended that those reports are reviewed in full as only a subset of the topics covered are relevant to CBDCs. For example, while some countries have engaged in severe human rights and civil liberties violations, only the following issues are considered directly relevant to the use of a CBDC: widespread government corruption, oppression of free expression, mass surveillance, and targeted discrimination.
The overall design of the tracker is meant to offer a simple way to tour the world and learn the risks at hand as more countries develop CBDCs.
The tracker will be updated on a varying basis due to the different timelines behind the data sources. Furthermore, decisions regarding CBDCs are somewhat sporadic so updates will be made as they appear. With that said, if you spot an error, typo, or have a tip for something that should be covered, please reach out to the team on the contact page.
The “Cash issued,” “CBDC issued,” and “Monetary base” data points are generally updated as of June 2023. Note, not all countries have data available and current exactly as of June 2023. Data is sourced from national central banks.
The “GDP,” “Population,” and “Inflation Rate” data points are generally updated as of December 2022. Note, not all countries have data available and current exactly as of December 2022. Data is sourced from the World Bank, International Monetary Fund, and United Nations.
The “Size of Government,” “Freedom of Movement,” and “Rule of Law” data points are from the Cato Institute and the Fraser Institute’s Human Freedom Index. The data points are sourced from the 2022 report.
The “Cato and Fraser Human Freedom Index,” “Freedom House Index,” and “Reporters Without Borders Freedom Index” are from the 2022 Human Freedom Index, 2023 Freedom in the World report, and 2023 RSF World Press Freedom Index, respectively.
The descriptions for each country were based on the most recent reports by Amnesty International, Financial Tyranny Index, Freedom House, Human Rights Watch, Privacy International, and the U.S. Department of State.