Is a new “digital dollar” project from the Federal Reserve and several of the world’s biggest banks another leap forward in Bible prophecy?
The Federal Reserve of New York along with major lenders such as Bank of America and HSBC have launched a pilot program for a digital dollar that will test the use of such tokens in the U.S. banking system.
Under the project, dubbed the “Regulated Liability Network U.S. Pilot,” the Fed’s New York Innovation Center (NYIC) will “explore the feasibility of an interoperable network of digital central bank liabilities and commercial bank digital money using distributed ledger technology.”
Utilizing the fundamentals of cryptocurrency known as blockchain, the pilot project will “experiment with wholesale digital asset transactions and settlements” and involve Citi, Bank of America, BNY Mellon, HSBC and payment specialists Mastercard and Swift, according to the Fed.
The blockchain technology for the project is being provided by SETL with Digital Asset, powered by Amazon Web Services.
"The NYIC looks forward to collaborating with members of the banking community to advance research on asset tokenization and the future of financial market infrastructures in the U.S. as money and banking evolve," said NYIC Director Per von Zelowitz.
The project will test the feasibility of a regulated liability network (RLN), which can facilitate digital asset transactions that connect deposits held at banks and other regulated financial institutions using distributed ledger technology.
According to the Fed, the framework could potentially pave the way for a “multi-asset, always-on, programmable infrastructure containing digital representations of central bank, commercial bank, and regulated non-bank issuer liabilities, denominated in U.S. dollars.”
The project — which will simulate digital money issued in U.S. dollars — will utilize existing regulatory framework and requirements for deposit-based payments. The tokens will be 100% fungible and redeemable with other forms of money” as part of the testing.
The RLN will only use simulated data and is “not intended to advance any specific policy outcome, nor is it intended to signal that the Federal Reserve will make any imminent decisions” about issuing a digital dollar token, Fed spokeswoman Shelley Pitterson said in a statement.
Officials say the project’s findings will be released after its conclusion in early 2023.
The launch of the pilot program comes within days of the spectacular collapse of FTX, a cryptocurrency exchange that helped consumers buy, sell and store popular digital currencies like Bitcoin and Ethereum, along with other digital assets.
After a deal to sell FTX to Binance, the world's largest crypto exchange, fell apart, FTX faced a liquidity crisis as customers fled the exchange, prompting CEO Sam Bankman-Fried to warn investors that the company could file for bankruptcy without a cash infusion of $8 billion, according to Fox Business.
While investors in FTX and other exchanges were previously warned about losing their investment in the event of the collapse of a trading firm like FTX, credit ratings provider Fitch Ratings — which many analysts believe played a key role in the 2008 financial crisis — say the market for stablecoins, which are pegged to a "stable" reserve asset like the U.S. dollar or gold, has since stabilized.
So does the introduction of digital currency portend a biblical moment?
Quite possibly, according to Pastor Jack Hibbs of Calvary Chapel Chino Hills in Southern California.
“The Bible does tell us in Revelation Chapter 13 that there will come a time where a global economic system is digitized, that all those who participate in a global economy will need to do so with what we would call a prefix, meaning a number that is the head of an account,” Hibbs told The Christian Post.
“That number, the Bible is very clear about. That number says that your account will be preempted by the number 666, that famous number that people always wonder about and make mention that it’s Satan’s number.”
But Hibbs also pointed out another, less discussed aspect about the touted benefits of transitioning to a cashless system.
Strictly from a global security perspective, Hibbs said such a system “makes sense” when it comes to promoting it as a means of eliminating human trafficking, drug smuggling, counterfeiting, and other criminal networks.
“So many legal issues are solved that are currently plaguing our world if there's no physical dollar,” Hibbs explained. “So I believe that it’s going to be pitched as not only the right technology thing to do, but, ‘Oh, look how we can put an end to a lot of illegal activity and so why not go with the system?’”
Pointing to nearly three years since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, Hibbs sees the global response to the virus as a sort of precursor to the totalitarian government system seen in the Apostle John’s apocalyptic vision.
In fact, Hibbs added, COVID and the ensuing global response captivated the world in ways that even two world wars were unable to do.
“For the first time in human history, the world was immediately affected and united for good or for evil regarding COVID. … It brought the world — all of it at once — into real time,” he said. “No other event in human history has ever accomplished something like that.”
And while the Fed’s pilot program in itself might not be a prophetic fulfillment, Hibbs said he believes we’re rapidly headed in that direction.
“The digital currency testing and discussion does not mean this is the mark of the beast, but it means that we are getting so much closer,” he said. “In a word, the stage is … being set for the End Times to be fulfilled and we’re witnessing that now.”
For that reason alone, Hibbs said Christians should be “emboldened and energized” by such headlines for the proclamation of the Gospel.
Using eschatology — the study of End Times prophecy — is a great way to engage people who might not know how to respond to these rapid changes occurring in the world, Hibbs added.
“I believe right now every believer has the thrilling opportunity to know Bible prophecy and to use it as a witnessing tool, not to scare people but to prepare people for the coming of the Lord,” he said.
“This is not a time to be scared or afraid as a believer,” he added. “This is a time to be emboldened and energized to go out there and help those who do not see the Scriptures.
“I think it’s a thrilling moment.”
Ian M. Giatti is a reporter for The Christian Post. He can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org.