Speech by Mr Agustín Carstens, window with view on railway station

The future of money and payments

Speech by Mr Agustín Carstens, General Manager of the BIS, at the Central Bank of Ireland, 2019 Whitaker Lecture, Dublin, 22 March 2019.

The bitcoin hype is over but attempts to create new forms of money or to engineer new ways to pay still appear almost weekly. Central banks have entered the fray, with about 70 percent either exploring or experimenting with so-called central bank digital currencies (CBDCs). A CBDC would allow ordinary people and businesses to make payments electronically using money issued by the central bank. But what are the consequences of such a system? How would it differ from what we have now? As money and payments form the backbone of the financial system, central banks need to understand the full consequences of opening up the monetary system for major surgery. Hence, central banks are treading cautiously, and only a very few central banks think it is likely that they will issue a CBDC.


Agustín Carstens became General Manager of the BIS on 1 December 2017.

Agustín Carstens – General Manager BIS

Mr Carstens was Governor of the Bank of Mexico from 2010 to 2017. A member of the BIS Board from 2011 to 2017, he was chair of the Global Economy Meeting and the Economic Consultative Council from 2013 until 2017. He also chaired the International Monetary and Financial Committee, the IMF’s policy advisory committee from 2015 to 2017.

Mr Carstens began his career in 1980 at the Bank of Mexico. From 1999 to 2000, he was Executive Director at the IMF. He later served as Mexico’s deputy finance minister (2000-03) and as Deputy Managing Director at the IMF (2003-06). He was Mexico’s finance minister from 2006 to 2009.

Mr Carstens has been a member of the Financial Stability Board since 2010 and is a member of the Group of Thirty.

Mr Carstens holds an MA and a PhD in economics from the University of Chicago.

Bank for International Settlements

Our mission is to serve central banks in their pursuit of monetary and financial stability, to foster international cooperation in those areas and to act as a bank for central banks.

Established in 1930, the BIS is owned by 60 central banks, representing countries from around the world that together account for about 95% of world GDP. Its head office is in Basel, Switzerland and it has two representative offices: in Hong Kong SAR and in Mexico City.

We pursue our mission by:

  • fostering discussion and facilitating collaboration among central banks
  • supporting dialogue with other authorities that are responsible for promoting financial stability
  • carrying out research and policy analysis on issues of relevance for monetary and financial stability
  • acting as a prime counterparty for central banks in their financial transactions
  • serving as an agent or trustee in connection with international financial operations

As part of our work in the area of monetary and financial stability, we regularly publish related analyses and international banking and financial statistics that underpin policymaking, academic research and public debate.

With regard to our banking activities, our customers are central banks and international organisations. We do not accept deposits from, or provide financial services to, private individuals or corporate entities.

Source: bis.org