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Calls for a U.S. digital currency?

Calls for a digital dollar have been on the rise.

Gustavo Rezende Dos Santos | EyeEm | Getty Images

DAVOS, Switzerland — A growing number of voices are calling for the U.S. to issue a "digital dollar" as China continues to work on a digital version of its own currency.

Users of the U.S. dollar are "underserved by an analogue currency in a digital world," Christopher Giancarlo, former chairman of the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC), said during a side event at the World Economic Forum in Davos.

"I think it's very much worth considering," Neha Narula, director of the Digital Currency Initiative at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), told CNBC at Davos.

The comments come as China is working on a digital yuan which some experts believe could come this year.

Why digital currencies?

It's unclear what form a central bank issued digital currency could take. It could be built on blockchain-like architecture. Blockchain is the underlying technology behind the cryptocurrency bitcoin. But it doesn't necessarily need to be.

The promise of a central bank digital currency (CBDC) is that it could make cross-border movement of money easier and improve traceability to fight corruption or money laundering, according to Henri Arslanian, global crypto leader at PwC.

"The potential traceability features of CBDCs could, for the first time, give us a good fighting change against corruption and money laundering. CBDCs also could allow policymakers to measure the impact of certain policies accurately and immediately," Arslanian told CNBC at Davos.

Digital dollar

Giancarlo, who has been dubbed by the media as "Crypto Dad" for his open views to blockchain technology while at the CFTC, advocated that the U.S. issue a digital dollar.

He recently set up the Digital Dollar Foundation along with Accenture to work on the design and potential framework for a digital dollar.

"If i...

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