Document Type


Publication Date



Bitcoin, Blockchain, Crypto-Currency, Digital Currency, Fintech


Banking and Finance Law | Internet Law


This Essay argues that crypto-currencies will soon go the way of the ‘wildcat’ banknotes of the mid-19th century. As central banks worldwide upgrade their payments systems, the Fed will begin issuing a ‘digital dollar’ that leaves no licit function for what the Author calls ‘wildcat crypto.’ But the imminent change heralds more than a shakeout in fintech. It will also make possible a new era of what the Author calls ‘Citizen Central Banking.’ The Fed will administer a national system of ‘Citizen Accounts.’ This will not only end the problem of the ‘unbanked,’ it will also simplify monetary policy. Instead of working through private bank ‘middlemen’ that it hopes will pass QE to borrowers during downturns, the Fed will be able to make ‘helicopter drops’ directly into Fed Citizen Accounts. And rather than relying solely on interbank lending rate hikes or on countercyclical capital buffering during periods of monetary excess, the Fed will be able to impound money through the more carrot-like measure of interest payments it credits to those accounts. Fintech utopians are right that our money is changing, but wrong about what change will look like. It will look like a digital dollar administered by a ‘Citizens’ Fed.’