DeCenter Seminar: Accountability in Central Bank Digital Currency

March 6, 2024 12:30 pm

Friend Center, Convocation Room

Speaker: Giulia Fanti, Carnegie Mellon University

Abstract: Today, over 110 central banks worldwide are actively exploring the deployment of a centrally-banked digital currency (CBDC). A (retail) CBDC is central bank money that is (a) digital in nature, and (b) widely accessible to the public. Some of the proposed benefits of CBDCs include greater flexibility in implementing monetary policy, improved financial inclusion, and more efficient money transfers at lower fees. However, in parallel with the momentum surrounding CBDCs is a growing fear that CBDCs will significantly increase the attack surface for the financial system at large. In this talk, we will explore how to provide accountability for CBDCs. In other words, instead of preventing malicious activity outright, we want to design protocols that are rich enough to provably attribute malicious behavior to the faulty party. An essential question is how to provide accountability without compromising the efficiency of the system. We will discuss challenges and proposed solutions to the accountability problem at the consensus layer, the payment verification layer, and at the interface with end users.  Notably, each of these problems is challenging in part because of partial decentralization that arises naturally in certain CBDC designs, despite their ostensibly centralized nature.


Bio: Giulia Fanti is an Assistant Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering at Carnegie Mellon University. Her research interests span the security, privacy, and efficiency of distributed systems. She is a two-time fellow of the World Economic Forum’s Global Future Council on Cybersecurity and a member of NIST’s Information Security and Privacy Advisory Board. Her work has been recognized with several awards, including best paper awards, a Sloan Fellowship, an Intel Rising Star Faculty Award, and an ACM SIGMETRICS Rising Star Award. She obtained her Ph.D. in EECS from U.C. Berkeley and her B.S. in ECE from Olin College of Engineering.