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Conferenza Internazionale BABEL: Central Bank Digital Currencies or what Fiat Currencies are still for

Conferenza Internazionale BABEL: Central Bank Digital Currencies or what Fiat Currencies are still for

Il 17 dicembre esperti da diversi Paesi si incontrano online per discutere sul tema Central Bank Digital Currencies. La conferenza internazionale è organizzata dal professor Filizzo Zatti (Università di Firenze) e dal suo team BABEL (Blockchains and Artificial intelligence for Business, Economics and Law). Un'occasione per rafforzare la relazione tra Italia e Canada anche sul tema delle CBDCs grazie alla presenza tra gli speaker di Francisco Rivadeneyra, Director CBDC e Fintech Policy and Research della Bank of Canada.

CBDCs or what Fiat Currencies are still for
17 dicembre 2020 | 15:30 -17:30

Evento Online

Avv. Rosa Giovanna Barresi*

Banking is a well-established Italian tradition, and Florentine bankers were the best: they invented modern banking.

And if fourteenth century's Florentine bankers were with us today, they would happily enroll in the first BABEL International Conference on CBDCs, organized by professor Filippo Zatti (the University of Florence, Italy) and his team BABEL, dealing with Blockchains and Artificial Intelligence for Business, Economics and Law.

Under the title CBDCs or what Fiat Currencies are still for, the conference will gather experts from many different countries (Africa, the Americas, and Europe).

Academics, economists, and legal scholars, will exchange views on specific issues related to emission of Central Bank Digital Currencies (CBDCs), a new form of electronic money.

During 2020 we have seen central banks developing pilot projects, leveraging technologies like DLT and Blockchain for upgrading their existing payment system. Central bankers and scholars are eager to match opinions and exchange results.

The conference is also a way to foster the close relationship between Canada and Italy.

In fact, the first sign of attention about the opportunity for issuing CBDCs came from the Central Bank of Canada. It was the year 2016 and the Canadian Central Bank proposed a framework for assessing reasons and strategies for issuing a CBDC. During the following years, the Bank continued exploring all the implications of this decision, culminating in a recent study about the need for financial and digital inclusion.


The conference will host (among other distinguished speakers) Mr. Francisco Rivadeneyra, PhD in Economics from the University of Chicago, Director of CBDC, Fintech Policy and Research at the Bank of Canada, who is presently researching the implications of electronic money, distributed ledger technologies, and machine learning on the mandates of central banks.

His presence represents an ideal trait d'union between the Bank of Canada and the research project of Prof. Filippo Zatti and Avv. Rosa Giovanna Barresi about a Universal Access Device to be used also in the CBDCs transactions.


Their paper The Importance of Where Central Bank Digital Currencies Are Custodied: Exploring the Need of a Universal Access Device, has been published in November.

The main objective of the UAD is the execution of payments in CBDC, that is, electronic money issued by a Central Bank.

As a secondary goal, it shall protect our digital identities, that is the story of our expenses, our shopping preferences, and all our sensitive data.

Taken on a personal basis, these data are not really interesting, however they are worth a lot to merchants for guessing our community habits, the trends in our personal tastes, and so on.

In this role of a secure platform, the Universal Access Device will safeguard the digital sovereignty of Europe, which we may think as the aggregate of all our digital identities.

Another feature of the UAD is its Universal qualification: it will support running more than one application at the same time in a highly secured environment.

In fact, a device so smart can do a lot more than executing payments. It could be used to accredit pensions or ad personam subsidies to specific citizens. Smart cities could leverage on this tool to offer new services. It could be used as a proof-of-identity or to store health data or other certifications, according to the principles of Self Sovereign Identity.

According to this vision, the UAD will be a partner of our day-to-day life, a citizen-centric device, and a tool for social inclusion: even the unbanked and those who are put down by a smartphone will be able to use it.

What do we know about the Universal Access Device?

First of all, it should be used with one hand, so it should be only slightly larger and heavier than a credit card.

It will operate for days on end even in the absence of support networks, for example in the event of natural disasters.

To identify its owner, it will use one or more technologies, including biometrics.

To make an online payment, we will need to frame a QR-code displayed on the payment page.

To execute a personal payment, we will need to set the amount on the payer device, and then bring the two devices close together.

Somehow surprisingly, both Central Banks and the fashion & luxury sector have expressed interest in this device. Probably, the interest from Central Banks does not need any explanation. Luxury & fashion are betting that the UAD will become a status-symbol for the money-savvy expert in the same way the smartphone became a status-symbol in the last decade.


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*LL.M. - BABEL Associate Member