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Life Inside An MST Landless Workers' Settlement In Brazil




For nearly 40 years, Brazil’s Landless Workers’ Movement (MST) has been fighting the concentration of landownership among the country’s elite through the direct occupation and settlement of fallow lands. Founded at the end of Brazil’s military dictatorship, the MST now has settlements and occupations throughout the nation. TRNN contributor Michael Fox reports from an MST settlement in the state of Paraná, where landless workers have built their own homes, schools, and cooperative farms.


Michael Fox [Narrator]: Brazil’s Landless Workers Movement, or MST; the largest social movement in the Americas, one and a half million members. Their goal: upend the huge concentration of land in the Brazilian countryside by pushing the government to carry out agrarian reform, putting land in the hands of the poor and working class, and growing healthy food for Brazilians, not for export. And it has been a huge success. 

But… it has not been easy. Across Brazil, roughly 450,000 small farming and working-class families have won land through the MST over the last 40 years. Here in the countryside of Parana state, MST land stretches for miles. 

Wellington Leno, MST: If you go 14 miles in any direction, you’ll still be on an MST agrarian reform settlement. Areas that were occupied in 1996, from a big company named Araupel. So you have settlements on both sides. And it’s one of the largest complexes of settlements in Latin America. As far as you can see are settlements.

Michael Fox [Narrator]: Just two MST settlements here produce 80,000 gallons of milk a day for the surrounding communities. Local MST farmers have created associations and cooperatives. 

Elena de Amorim, Coperjunho bakery coop: Here’s the bread that’s going to the market. Traditional bread. Whole grain bread. Cornbread. And french bread, which we sell by order. The coop has been around for 16 years. I’ve worked here for 10 years. One of our dreams from when we were camped was to form a cooperative to have a little extra income. For the women. Yes, for the women.

Michael Fox [Narrator]: Theirs is one of roughly 2000 producers’ associations and coops that the MST has founded up and down the country. A cooperative of MST farmers in Southern Brazil is the largest producer of organic rice in all of Latin America. But it has been a long road. 

The movement was founded in 1984, in the final days of Brazil’s 21-year military dictatorship. The goal was to turn the tide on the country’s immense concentration of land in the hands of the powerful and the elite. By 1996, three percent of the population still owned two-thirds of all arable land. The MST’s strategy has remained similar from the beginning. Occupy fallow land to pressure the Brazilian government into carrying out agrarian reform. The land the government hands over turns into what the MST calls, “settlements,” with each MST family receiving roughly 50 acres of land. The lands lived on by families before receiving their parcels are called land occupations or encampments. Like this one… one of the largest in Southern Brazil. The Dom Tomás Balduíno encampment.

Wellington Leno, MST: This was public land. But it had been stolen by the company Araupel, which produces pine and eucalyptus trees for export. And all of this wealth is sent out of the country. It doesn’t even stay in Brazil. So this occupation is important because families have come here to produce healthy food without the use of pesticides. But also, because people have come here to have the opportunity and the right to have a dignified life.

Michael Fox [Narrator]: I visited Thomas Balduino in 2019, five years after they broke ground. Usually, encampments like this aren’t as developed. In the beginning stages, every encampment starts out the same way: tent cities of black plastic tarp, where residents brave the elements. Roseangela Antonis has been here since the beginning.

Rosangela Antonis, encampment resident: We suffered with the heat and the rains. It’s hard, but there isn’t anything you can’t overcome and improve. Now, we have our little homes and things are good.

Michael Fox [Narrator]: Roseangela has been with the MST since 1999. She grew up on another land occupation. Her parents won land, but she wasn’t old enough to receive a parcel herself. Today, she lives here with her three girls.  

Rosangela Antonis, encampment resident: In the beginning, it was really hard. But the most important thing in a struggle is the organization. That’s how we were able to create housing. Our homes and our land to plant. Everything that we built is through our organization. Because we are organized. Out there they call us riff raff. But we are really organized. And we are able to achieve much more than people out there believe.

Michael Fox [Narrator]: Decisions about the occupation are made collectively by those residing in the encampment. They organize in local groups of 20 people. Everyone has a job. And they are already farming.

Rosangela Antonis, encampment resident: We plant and grow our food. We have lettuce, parsley, tomato, kale, cucumber.. We have a little bit of everything. Garlic. We have a lot of vegetables. We plant a little bit of everything. Salad.

Michael Fox [Narrator]: Food is often cooked and served communally. 

Encampment resident [singing]: We had no direction. Carrying what we had on our backs.

Michael Fox [Narrator]: The camp has frequent meetings, concerts and what MST members call místicas, or mystical performances, because they are deeply symbolic, and connected to the movement’s history and struggle. Above all else, there is a huge focus on education. Roseangela’s daughter Kethlyn walks to school hand-in-hand with her best friend. At class, they are learning to read and write. 

Kethelyn Vitória, Student: When I was in 1st grade, I didn’t know how to read or write. But now, in 2nd grade, I’ve started to read and write.

Michael Fox [Narrator]: The classrooms are barebones. Their teacher says they make up for it with experiential learning. 

Adriana Monteiro, Teacher: We spend a lot of time outside of this little square box. We have the fields with the crops right here, when we want to show them a crop, or how to plant and harvest. We have the organic crops here, too. There are families that plant both conventional and organic crops. And we are constantly going to the fields to learn.

Michael Fox [Narrator]: 400 kids study at this school that the camp members built with their own hands. 

Rosangela Antonis, encampment resident: The school is important in our encampment, because it’s different from schools elsewhere. Our kids have a better education, that doesn’t just talk about the world out there, but the reality that we are living here. Of our reality. Being more in solidarity. More understanding. Our kids learn and they also learn about our struggle.

Michael Fox [Narrator]: This is not the only school on MST land. Every land occupation has its daycare and preschools, staffed by members of the camp. 

Teacher: I’m going to tell you a really cool story. It’s about the drum. Have you heard of the drum?

Students: No. Yes!

Michael Fox [Narrator]: The movement says that over the last four decades, they’ve built more than 2000 public schools on encampments and settlements up and down the country. Here in rural Parana, high schools and even a college campus have been created on MST land settlements that were handed over to landless farmers roughly twenty years ago. Jackson Correio Madeiros dos Santos is a 17-year-old student studying to teach.

Jackson Correio Madeiros dos Santos, Student: It’s a very welcoming school. And this Teacher Training course is showing us many new sides of education. We’re taking three extra classes about education. As well as the internships  in schools and daycare centers. Where you observe in the classroom how the teacher works. How he treats the students. How the students act. That’s what this Teacher Training course is showing us.

Michael Fox [Narrator]: Down the road, a campus of Brazil’s Federal University of the Southern Border is located on an MST settlement. 

Lilian Aline Candida da Silva, Agroecology Masters Student: I decided to study here, because of this. Because it’s a university with a focus on agroecology. And because it’s located on an MST settlement. And also because the MST is a great defender of agroecology.

Michael Fox [Narrator]: Agroecology is the science of sustainable farming, developing agricultural practices that co-exist with nature and the local ecosystem. 

Wellington Leno, MST: What we have here are family members, children, elderly, women, men. They are here to produce food. Good food. Here to produce education and culture. Here to live a dignified life. And to fight for their rights.

Michael Fox [Narrator]: The movement’s accomplishments are inspiring. But there has been pushback. Constant threats of raids and evictions. 

Encampment resident: It’s like scenes from a war. Scenes from a war. Scenes from a war here at Campo do Meio. The governor is trying to violently evict the families.

Michael Fox [Narrator]: Former president Jair Bolsonaro was backed by large landowners and the country’s Big Ag caucus. He called them terrorists and threatened to close their schools. 

Jair Bolsonaro, Former President: People of the MST. Your time is coming to an end. Your activity is criminal and it terrorizes, too.

Michael Fox [Narrator]: There have been attacks by police, private security forces and local landowners who accuse them of stealing land and attacking the private property of the elite and powerful.

Encampment resident: The police have just attacked us. They threw a bunch of tear gas grenades. Fire. And we need urgent help.

Michael Fox [Narrator]: And there have been killings. Even here at the Tomas Balduíno camp 

Encampment Resident: The police started firing. Those who could run, did. But some people were hit. And, unfortunately, two of our companions died. It was terrible. Everyone in panic. Women and children in panic, because they were afraid the police would come in here and start shooting children and families. It was horrible. And we still feel sorry for them. Because they left behind families. They died in the struggle. They died fighting here with us. 

Michael Fox [Narrator]: Attacks against the MST are not uncommon. Back in 2018, even Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva’s presidential campaign came under fire just down the road from Dom Thomas Balduino.  

News reporter: Two buses participating in the caravan of former president Lula were hit by gunshots yesterday afternoon in Paraná. Supreme Court Justice Edson Fachin says they received threats.

Michael Fox [Narrator]: The gunshots were traced to a farm belonging to an elite landowner who is accused of previously threatening MST members. But these raids, threats, attacks and killings have not silenced the movement or its members. The MST has continued to be one of the most active voices of protest across Brazil. Members have held marches up and down the country. They’ve protested large agribusiness firms like Monsanto.

Protestor: Bayer-Monsanto continues to sell its product to many countries, including Brazil, which today is the largest consumer of pesticides in the world.

Michael Fox [Narrator]: When Lula was jailed in 2018, blocking him from running in that year’s presidential election, the MST helped to hold down the on-going vigil that demanded his release from prison throughout the 580 days he was jailed. The MST was also instrumental in organizing for Lula’s successful presidential campaign in 2022. The same year, seven members of the MST won local and national seats in office. It was the first time the movement had ever fielded candidates.

Rosa Amorim, MST member, Pernambuco: For us, it was not only an electoral victory, but a giant political victory, because the MST is the biggest resistance movement in Brazil. Today, I’m the youngest representative elected to the Pernambuco state legislature. And this also represents a renewal of politics and the left. And we have a lot of challenges.

Michael Fox [Narrator]: The goal of the MST is nothing less than to transform Brazilian society. By growing healthy food for Brazilians, not for export. By providing land to families in need. By educating their children about solidarity, about how to share. How to work together. How to build a more just world. And that is what the MST is doing. One encampment. One settlement. One community at a time.

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Australian National Review – Ellen Brown: The Looming Quadrillion Dollar Derivatives Tsunami





Ellen Brown: The Looming Quadrillion Dollar Derivatives Tsunami

By Investment Watch Blog

via scheerpost:

Technically, the cutoff for SIFIs is $250 billion  in assets. However, the reason they are called “systemically important” is not their asset size but the fact that their failure could bring down the whole financial system. That designation comes chiefly from their exposure to derivatives, the global casino that is so highly interconnected that it is a “house of cards.” Pull out one card and the whole house collapses. SVB held $27.7 billion in derivatives, no small sum, but it is only .05% of the $55,387 billion ($55.387 trillion) held by JPMorgan, the largest U.S. derivatives bank.


Credit Suisse’s $39 Trillion Derivative Debt Poses Significant Threat to US Financial System.

  • The U.S. Treasury Secretary, Janet Yellen, is under a lot of pressure due to the deteriorating condition of Credit Suisse, a Swiss banking giant. Under the Dodd-Frank financial reform legislation of 2010, Yellen was given increased powers to oversee financial stability in the U.S. banking system. The legislation made Yellen the Chair of the newly created Financial Stability Oversight Council (F-SOC), whose meetings include the heads of all of the federal agencies that supervise banks and trading on Wall Street. It is Yellen’s authorization that would be required before the Federal Reserve could create any more emergency bailout programs for mega banks.
  • Recently, the US Treasury was reviewing US banks exposed to Credit Suisse, looking into how many billions of dollars of underwater derivatives US banks were on the hook for as a counterparty to Credit Suisse, and U.S. banks exposure to Credit Suisse’s other major counterparties that U.S. banks do business with.
  • Credit Suisse was making headlines for two years, and serious problems at Credit Suisse have raised alarm bells in the US financial system. Credit Suisse is a global, systemically significant, too-big-to-fail bank that operates in the US and is deeply interconnected throughout the global financial system. Its failure could have widespread and largely unknown repercussions, which is why the US financial system and economy need to be adequately protected.
  • The recent revelations about Credit Suisse’s deteriorating state have raised concerns about contagion risks in the banking industry, particularly in light of the staggering amount of secret derivative debt being held by foreign banks. According to a report by the Bank for International Settlement, this unreported exposure is 10 times greater than their capital, with an estimated $39 trillion of dollar debt held off balance sheets.
  • This poses potential threats to dollar swap lines and with a significant portion of derivative trades still not being centrally cleared, a layer of opacity is added to an already unaccountable system. The quarterly derivatives report from the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency found that four US mega banks held 88.6% of all notional amounts of derivatives in the US banking system, with a total notional amount of $195 trillion.

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Australian National Review – UCSF Orders Their Doctors To Ignore COVID Vaccine Injuries





UCSF Orders Their Doctors to Ignore COVID Vaccine Injuries

By Steve Kirsch

They don’t file VAERS reports either. That’s a violation of federal law. I had a bunch of questions for their media relations department, but they ghosted me. Here’s what I wanted to know.

Dr. Josh Adler is executive vice president and chief clinical officer at UCSF Health as well as vice dean for clinical affairs at the UCSF School of Medicine. I wondered if he would like to see these questions answered as well. So I asked him.

Executive summary

I sent a list of questions to UCSF media relations on March 20 at 10am PST. I also emailed and called the head of media relations at UCSF to let her know about my questions.

Their response: silence.

You know what that means, don’t you?

The questions I sent them

  1. The UCSF Chief Medical Officer has issued a verbal directive that medical staff (doctors, nurses, techs, etc.) are specifically instructed NOT to associate the COVID vaccine to any injuries. So even if they believe the vaccine caused the injury they are NOT allowed to talk to the patient about it. Can you explain how this is in a patient’s best interest? World health authorities such as Karl Lauterbach, Federal Minister of Germany for Health, have publicly admitted that the rate of severe vaccine injury is 1 in 10,000 and the V-safe data in the US shows the rate of severe injury (requiring medical care) is actually 100X higher: 8 SEVERE INJURIES per 100 fully vaccinated people. So why is the UCSF medical staff forbidden to make an association??
  2. I’ve been told that the staff are told not to ask if the person was recently vaccinated with the COVID vaccine because that would suggest to the patient that the COVID vaccine might have caused their medical condition. Is this true? So the patient must offer it to the doctor because the doctor isn’t allowed to ask? How does that improve clinical outcomes?
  3. I’ve been told that 70% of the Radiology Department (in Marin specifically) requested and were granted religious exemptions after seeing what happened to people who received the COVID vaccine. If it wasn’t 70%, what is the number?
  4. I’ve been told that the placentas of a majority of vaccinated women who give birth are not normal (calcified, blood clots, etc.). This started happening after the shots rolled out. Can you tell me what percentage was observed and why nobody at the hospital is speaking out to the press about this situation?
  5. Most troubling to me is that I was not able to find anyone who currently works at UCSF (including doctors, nurses, and lab techs) who would talk to me on the record for fear of being fired. Why would these doctors and nurses have such a fear? Will you guarantee in writing that any staff member who speaks out about any of the points above will be protected and not be fired just for speaking out? Have you fired anyone for speaking the truth? Who?
  6. With all the chatter about fear and intimidation tactics, have you issued WRITTEN assurances to the staff that 1) it is OK to ask about COVID vaccine status, 2) that it is OK to write vaccine exemptions when warranted such as allergic reactions, 3) that if they believe the vaccine caused an injury that they are free to talk about it with the patient and 4) that staff members who talk publicly about what they are seeing in the clinic with respect to vaccine-associated injuries/deaths and don’t violate any confidentiality/HIPAA rules will be protected from being fired? I want to know whether TRUE speech is protected and whether UCSF has notified staff of this in WRITING. If not, why not? Do fear and intimidation tactics yield better health outcomes?
  7. My friend Tim Damroth told me he suffered a cardiac arrest 2 minutes after getting his first COVID shot. He was in such pain since the shot that his UCSF doctors prescribed a nerve block shot. But in order to get the nerve block shot, UCSF required him to be fully vaccinated (i.e., 2 shots)! He asked for a vaccine exemption, but the UCSF doctors told him that UCSF doesn’t allow them to write any vaccine exemptions, even for people who almost died after getting the shot. So Tim got another shot in order to get the medical care he needed but this made his pain much worse. Can you confirm whether COVID vaccination is still required to get certain medical care at UCSF? If it isn’t still required, when did the requirement end? Can you explain the rationale for requiring vaccination to give a shot? Do you deny treatment to people with life threatening conditions if they are not fully vaccinated? How vaccinated must they be to be treated? 2 shots? 3 shots? I just talked to Tim and he will be delighted to sign a HIPAA consent to allow UCSF to talk about his case and all his medical records publicly so everyone can learn what happened to him. Are you proud of the way he was treated? Do you have any regrets?
  8. If you believe that COVID vaccine and masks are effective, why would you subject a patient to have to be vaccinated before receiving medical care? This is nonsensical in light of the Cleveland Clinic study which clearly showed that vaccines increase risk of getting COVID which would seem to put the staff at higher risk. You are clearly ignoring that study. On what basis? Nobody has been able to debunk the study. The precautionary principle of medicine requires that you hold off your vaccine requirement until you can resolve the ambiguity.
  9. How many UCSF staff have died within 6 months of receiving a COVID vaccine shot? Were autopsies done? Did they do the histopathology studies to rule out the COVID vaccine as a cause of death? Can we see the slides?
  10. How many UCSF staff have been seriously injured from the COVID vaccine?
  11. Why didn’t any doctor at UCSF file a VAERS report on the vaccine injuries of , Jan Maisel, and Angela Wulbrecht. This is required by law. was a former Chief Medical Officer at UCSF. Maisel is Associate Clinical Professor of Pediatrics at UCSF. Wulbrecht was a top UCSF nurse. All of their injuries were required by law to be reported, yet no VAERS reports were filed. Why not? What are you doing to correct the problem?
  12. UCSF ultrasound technicians with decades of experience have seen an unprecedented number of menstrual irregularities in women who have been vaccinated. Why aren’t any of them warning the public about this? Is the public better off if nobody knows about this?
  13. I talked to one of the funeral homes used by UCSF. They are seeing a 20X higher rate of perinatal deaths after the COVID vaccines rolled out. This is a disaster. Why isn’t anyone saying anything about this? Why did the funeral director decline to be named for fear of being fired? Why isn’t UCSF just publishing the numbers to warn the community? How does keeping this information secret result in superior clinical outcomes?
  14. Nearly all of the UCSF neurologists know that the COVID vaccines have caused serious injuries to huge numbers of UCSF patients. Can you explain why none of them are speaking out publicly about what they are observing in the clinic?
  15. Why not make public health information from the hospital public? The information can be easily anonymized to protect privacy. Wouldn’t making medical records such as age/admission date/COVID vaccine dates/reason for admission be a huge public service? If the vaccine really works, everyone would know it. If the vaccine doesn’t work, everyone would know it. Why don’t we have data transparency?
  16. Is anyone at UCSF calling for data transparency from the CDC? If the death-vax records were public, we could instantly know whether the shots are beneficial or harmful. Is there a reason these records are not public and nobody at UCSF is calling for these records to be made public? Do we get better health outcomes when the CDC keeps the data from public view? The data can be easily anonymized to satisfy any HIPAA requirements. I personally released a subset of the death-vax records from Medicare. So I know it can be done. Oh, and it showed the vaccine were causing an enormous amount of excess deaths.
  17. How long do you think you can get away with hiding all these vaccine injuries from public view?
  18. Is this really in the public interest to keep all this stuff secret and engage in fear and intimidation tactics? Is there a paper in a peer-reviewed medical journal showing superior patient outcomes when the public is kept in the dark about vaccine injuries?

Additional actions

On March 20 at 9:50pm I sent this email to Dr. Adler and cc’ed his assistant:


These should be easy questions for UCSF to answer, but they are ducking my questions for some reason. I just can’t figure it out. I don’t want to spread misinformation, and I’ve offered to correct any questions if they will supply evidence that I’m wrong, but all I hear is silence.

It’s not just me who wants answers to these questions. Pretty much all my readers want to know the answer too.

More importantly, I’d guess that most of the people who work at UCSF would want to know the answer to these questions as well.

But apparently UCSF management and the mainstream media don’t think any of these questions are important.

I wonder if any members of the UCSF Health Leadership Team are curious about the answer to any of these questions. And if not, why not? Do all of them think secrecy is the best way to go? Which questions do they not want to have answered and why? I’ve emailed Dr. Adler and I hope he will respond.

They can’t keep running from the truth. The longer they avoid answering these questions, the worse they look.

Some day there will be accountability. You can bank on that.

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Australian National Review – Government-Backed Digital Money To Represent $213B In Payments By 2030





Government-backed Digital Money to Represent $213B in Payments by 2030

By Lucas Mearian

Digital currencies backed by government banks still face a mountain of challenges before they’ll be ready for prime time, but 114 countries are involved in various projects, either in the planning stage or all-out pilots.

The global value of central bank digital currencies (CBDCs) will grow dramatically from $100 million today to $213 billion by 2030, once the virtual money gains greater adoption for domestic payments, according to new data from Juniper Research.

By 2030, 92% of the total value transacted through CBDCs around the world will be paid domestically, as cross-border payment systems face an uphill battle for adoption, Juniper predicted.

The digital currency, which is backed by traditional fiat cash such as the US dollar or British pound, can bolster financial inclusion because customers don’t have to have a bank account to hold them; they can instead use encrypted “digital wallets” that exist in the cloud, on a desktop or laptop, or even on USB storage device.

With a cross-border CBDC payment system, immigrants, for example, could send money back to their countries of origin without having to pay what can be exorbitant fees for electronic money transfers. Businesses would also be able to make cross-border payments for goods and services with much cheaper, and faster, settlements.

Central-bank-backed digital currencies would also reduce the costs of printing and replacing mone, help improve fraud detection, and allow money paid to scammers to be more easily traced and recovered, according to Lou Steinberg, former Ameritrade CTO and managing partner at cybersecurity research firm CTM Insights.

“It would simplify and speed up cross-border payments and reduce the cost and complexity of processing checks, wires, etc.,” Steinberg said in an email reply to Computerworld. “Unlike cryptocurrencies such as bitcoin, a currency that is backed by the full faith and credit of the United States or other trusted government would provide certainty that the value of the currency is being carefully managed. A government can adjust everything from the money supply to interest rates as they manage and maintain the value of a fiat currency.”

Digital currencies also eliminate the anonymous nature of consumer cash transactions. In places such as China, where spending activity is closely monitored, that would let the government know what movies an individual is buying tickets for of whether they are spending money at a bar. Those are hard to track with cash.

The US has been a slow follower compared to other nations, such as China and its digital Yuan, in developing a CBDC. Australia, China, Thailand, Brazil, India, South Korea and Russia already have pilots or will begin test programs this year. By 2030, the Bank of England and UK Treasury are planning to launch a digital pound or ‘Britcoin’ CBDC.

It matters which nation’s digital currency achieves widespread adoption first because that government will be able to set the global rules for most others, according to Steinberg. “Whomever sets up large international payment systems first will have a de-facto standard, one which latecomers will have to adopt,” he said. “The US continues to study a digital dollar while others are making progress. We need to prioritize a system for international payments and settlement based on a digital dollar, almost the equivalent of a next-generation SWIFT network.”

The features and standards can be used to design in privacy or state surveillance and traceability. They can include limited use currency, such as a type of dollar that could only be used for stimulus but not saved, or a digital dollar food stamp.

“On the other hand, countries like Cuba have two types of currency, and limit the use of one type to foreigners only (so they know which of their citizens are collecting money from foreigners),” Steinberg said. “If we want western standards around privacy, we need to set the standards. If we want the dollar to maintain its role as a ‘reserve currency,’ we need to set the standards around cross-border networks. Showing up late to the game means you play by some else’s rules.”

All together, 114 countries representing 95% of global GDP are investigating the creation of CBDCs, according to the Atlantic Council, a Washington-based think tank. Only 10% have launched general CBDC networks. Sixteen percent of projects are in pilot stage, 30% are in development, and 27% are still in the research stage, according to the Atlantic Council.

“We are behind. The good news is that we are starting to realize this,” Steinberg said of the US.

This map by the Atlantic Council shows the maturity of CBDC projects around the globe.

In March 2022, for example, US President Joe Biden issued an executive order calling for more research on developing a national digital currency through the Federal Reserve Bank, or “The Fed.” The order highlighted the need for more regulatory oversight of cryptocurrencies, which have been used for nefarious activities such as money laundering. The Fed has been investigating the creation of a CBDC for years.

US lawmakers have also introduced bills that would allow the US Treasury to create a digital dollar. The electronic dollar would allow people to make payments using tokens on mobile phones or through cards instead of cash.

In November, the New York Federal Reserve Bank began developing a wholesale CDBC prototype. Named Project Cedar, the CBDC program hammered out a blockchain-based framework expected to become a pilot in a multi-national payments or settlement system. The project, now in phase 2, is a joint experiment with the Monetary Authority of Singapore to explore issues around the interoperability of the distributed ledger.

Juniper Research’s Maynard believes China will lead both domestic and cross-border CBDC use in 2030, “as it has had early pilots which have seen some success in the market.”

Since CBDCs are issued by central banks, they will be mainly targeted at domestic payments at first, with cross-border payments arriving as systems become established and links made between CBDCs used by individual countries. Crucial to CBDC success, however, will be cross-border and retail merchant acceptance.

CBDCs will also require a complex regulatory framework including privacy, consumer protection, and anti-money laundering standards, which need to be made more robust before adopting the technology, according to the Atlantic Council. Any new system of payment could also jeopardize the national security objectives of the country using them.

“They can, for example, limit the United States’ ability to track cross-border flows and enforce sanctions,” the group said. “In the long term, the absence of US leadership and standards setting can have geopolitical consequences, especially if China and other countries maintain their first-mover advantage in the development of CBDCs.”

Steinberg agreed, saying a fully distributed system has risks, “both that wallets will be electronically pick-pocketed, and that transaction validity (consensus) can be cheated. A well-designed system could be quite secure today and future proofed. A poorly designed one would lead to widespread theft and fraud,” he said.

The research by Juniper said to date there is still lack of commercial product development around CBDCs, with few well-defined platforms for central banks to leverage — a big limiting factor for the current market.

“While cross-border payments currently have high costs and slow transaction speeds, this area is not the focus of CBDC development,” said Nick Maynard, Juniper’s head of research. “As CBDC adoption will be very country specific, it will be incumbent on cross-border payment networks to link schemes together, allowing the wider payments industry to benefit from CBDCs.”

For success, any CBDC platform would need a full end-to-end financial network, including wholesale capabilities, digital wallet, and merchant acceptance, Juniper said.

Full end-to-end CBDC solutions, including wholesale capabilities and – most importantly – widespread merchant adoption central banks to generate buy in. That will mean leveraging platforms from experienced payments vendors, as well as having a public consultation model which involves key stakeholders at every stage.

“In order to achieve merchant adoption, it’s a chicken or egg scenario to an extent,” Maynard said. “Merchants will want to use the platform users are transacting in, but users will want to use the platform their favourite merchants and brands are on. As such, it will likely require a mix of incentives at both the user and merchant level to generate initial traffic.”

One of the challenges for central banks is figuring out how to enable a CBDC that adds value above existing payment systems, according to Gartner Research. The success of CBDCs also depends on “programmability” enabled by smart contracts, Gartner argued in a January report.

“In order to further justify investments into CBDCs, developers are experimenting with injecting programmability into CBDC-enabled payment value chains,” Gartner said. “Therefore, bank CIOs need to prepare for this transformation,”

As part of ongoing pilots of the digital Yuan, or e-CNY, for example, the Bank of China Chengdu is using smart contracts to manage the deposits for extracurricular school activities, such as field trips to museums. Using the e-CNY CBDC reduces reliance on third parties to deal with a refund if a class is canceled, or a student couldn’t attend, Gartner said.

Countries such as Russia and China see how payments that depend on US infrastructure and currencies can be affected by sanctions and are working to develop alternatives, Steinberg said.

“The one to watch is China,” Steinberg said, referring to the mBridge Project. “Domestically, they need to keep electronic payments from all moving to tech companies, and undoubtedly see benefits in increased consumer surveillance. Internationally, they piloted cross border payments and settlement with central banks in places like Thailand and UAE. That’s the current concern.”

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