Submission to The Bank of England’s dialogue on the design of a Central Bank Digital Currency.

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The Bank of England (BoE) is the UK’s central bank. The Bank’s mission is to deliver monetary and financial stability for the people of the United Kingdom.

Here is an urgent message from Jonathan Harris, also known as The Money Burning Guy, the first Iron Man Records Patron.

#moneyfreaks and money burners!

I NEED YOUR URGENT HELP!

Below is a link to my submission to Bank of England’s dialogue on the design of a Central Bank Digital Currency.

Please read & comment on this short letter to help improve it. Offers of co-signatories & cc’s also very welcome. Thank You!

The deadline for responses is Friday 12th June 2020. I apologise for leaving it so very late to ask for help. Life has been busy.

Here’s what I’d like you to do, right now.

Read the draft letter.
Comment with a view to improving the text/argument.

The final draft of the letter will be set at tomorrow midday – that’s Friday 12th June at 12pm. I want to send it at 4pm.

Your input is very much appreciated whether you want to co-sign or not.

If you do want to co-sign, then either email me straight away OR take a look at the final draft tomorrow morning and then email me. You must confirm by 2pm tomorrow (12th) latest. Please do it like this:

Email: jonone100@gmail.com

SUBJECT HEADER: Co-signatory
Email text: Name and position/occupation 
Extra: Do you want to be cc’d? If so, please say ‘YES, CC ME!’
(It would be especially helpful to have cc’s to academic institution email addresses!)

I’ll probably want to publish the letter (and any response) in the forthcoming Burning Issue Supplement – but you don’t have to agree to that at the moment. I’ll get in touch nearer the time.

All love and deepest thanks, Jon. Xx

To the Governor and Officers of the Bank of England

12th June 2020

Dear Sirs:

Thank you for the opportunity to provide feedback on your Central Bank Digital Currency (CBDC) discussion paper.

We believe that a holder of a unit of CBDC must have the capacity to destroy it.

Specifically, ‘to destroy’ means ‘to permanently remove a unit of currency from circulation’ such that – once destroyed – the holder is no longer able to retrieve or access the value represented by the CBDC and there can be no future holders of that particular unit of CBDC.

Why do we think this is important?

The capacity for a unit of currency to be destroyed is the ‘gold standard’ in the creation of a currency. It is this feature of money that ultimately ensures the sovereignty of the holder in respect of their currency. It is the ultimate signifier that ‘we’ have dominion over ‘our’ money, rather than ‘it’ over ‘us’. Such a quality has always inhered within ‘material’ money; gold coins can be buried, banknotes can be burned.

If a CBDC is to have all the features and functions of banknotes, it must include the capacity for destruction at the hands of its holder. This would distinguish a CBDC, from the e-money of Private Banks (which cannot be destroyed by account holders).

But who would want to destroy their own money and why would we include a feature that no-one would really want?

It is certainly true that the destruction of currency is anathema to the logic of finance and contrary to a ‘common sense’ view of our relations with money. Nevertheless, there is a small community of a thousand ‘money burners’ in the UK who choose to make a ritual sacrifice of cash. The Bank of England should not disregard their views; this is especially so when inclusion of the capacity for destruction within the design of a CBDC would have no impact upon and zero costs to those who would not currently countenance destroying their own money.

The assumptions and ideology underscoring such questions are exposed by turning them on their head. Actually, what should be answered is Why The Bank would design a currency that irrevocably and absolutely prevented any holder of that currency from destroying it? Why would The Bank seek to impose such a limitation?

We would be very happy to contribute to the ongoing discussion and provide The Bank with the appropriate intellectual arguments to support the views outlined above.

It has always been possible for holders to destroy ‘cryptocurrencies’ (or ‘cryptoassets’) built on Distributed Ledger Technology, simply by destroying ‘private keys’. But by whatever technological means such functionality is assured within the design of a CBDC, we believe that its presence is of fundamental importance to The Bank’s avowed aim of promoting the good of the people of the United Kingdom.

Yours faithfully,

Mr Jonathan Harris (BSc LSE) aka ‘Money Burning Guy’

Burn The Money

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