In recent years, the concept of Central Bank Digital Currencies (CBDCs) has gained increasing traction across the globe, with proponents lauding the potential benefits of a digitized monetary system. 

However, when we explore the real-life implications of CBDCs, it becomes increasingly clear that the rush toward digital currencies controlled by central banks poses a significant threat to individual liberty.

CBDCs mean the end of financial privacy

Privacy is a fundamental right that should extend to our financial transactions. CBDCs, by design, raise serious concerns about the erosion of financial privacy. The ability of central banks to monitor and track every transaction in real-time threatens to create a surveillance state where our every financial move is scrutinized.

Recent protests in Nigeria against the introduction of the e-naira, a state-controlled digital currency, serve as a stark reminder of the public’s resistance to an encroachment on their financial privacy. Citizens rightly fear the potential misuse of this data and the implications for personal freedom.

An open door for unprecedented government overreach

CBDCs provide governments with unprecedented control over financial transactions, opening the door to complete state oversight over how individuals choose to spend their money.

Governments have a strong penchant for data collection, and pairing CBDCs with a social credit scoring system would immediately thrust us into a dystopian nightmare. Think of a scenario where every purchasing decision influences your social credit score, dictating everything from your ability to buy train tickets to securing a government job. 

China’s reality, where citizen scores impact crucial aspects of life, serves as a stark warning against the potential misuse of CBDCs for intrusive surveillance.

The dangers of centralization

The appeal of CBDCs hinges on their perceived capacity to centralize power within the economic system. Advocates argue that this centralized control can streamline monetary policy, enhance efficiency, and provide a swift response to economic challenges. However, beneath this promise lies a perilous reality.

Governments, renowned for their bureaucratic complexity and lapses in responsibility, pose a significant risk to the integrity of CBDCs. The key vulnerability stems from the potential for governmental missteps, ranging from poorly executed updates to the susceptibility of the centralized ledger to data breaches. 

Unlike Bitcoin, a decentralized cryptocurrency which has weathered a decade of challenges to establish a robust and tamper-resistant structure, CBDCs place undue reliance on less resilient mechanisms.

The decentralized nature of Bitcoin, achieved through a distributed network of miners validating transactions through a proof-of-work consensus mechanism, has proven resistant to manipulation and external interference. 

In contrast, CBDCs are tethered to centralized databases, making them susceptible to the pitfalls inherent in centralized systems. A single software glitch, a negligent update, or a data leak could have profound consequences for the entire economic framework governed by CBDCs.

For further reading, be sure to check out our piece on ‘What makes Bitcoin such a revolutionary concept.’

CBDCs mean financial exclusion

Globally, more than 60 percent of jobs operate in the informal economy, providing livelihoods and efficiency. CBDCs, however, pose a significant threat to this sector, jeopardizing activities such as neighborly transactions or employing a teenager for yard work. 

The government’s ledger tracking every transaction could sound the death knell for the informal economy, impacting millions of jobs and disrupting the efficiency and cost-effectiveness it brings.

Preserving the option to use physical cash is crucial for maintaining individual autonomy and choice in financial transactions.


In conclusion, within the dynamic terrain of digital currencies, the ascendancy of Bitcoin over CBDCs becomes glaringly obvious.

Just like fiat currency, CBDCs, subject to the discretion of central authorities, will be prone to over-issuance, diluting their value. Conversely, Bitcoin’s fixed supply of 21 BTC, embedded in its protocol, stands as a bulwark against inflationary pressures. 

Ultimately, in the realm of digital currencies, only a decentralized, peer-to-peer currency can offer privacy, global accessibility, scarcity, and immutable transactions.

As we navigate this intricate landscape of monetary evolution, understanding the nuances and potential implications becomes paramount. The journey towards a decentralized and peer-to-peer financial system is not only about the pitfalls of traditional currencies but also about embracing alternatives that safeguard individual autonomy and choice.

Considering the critical discourse surrounding the threats posed by CBDCs to privacy, financial inclusivity, and economic freedom, staying informed is more a matter of necessity than of choice.

Students For Liberty’s upcoming LibertyCon International held in Washington, D.C., on February 2-4, 2024, is an excellent opportunity to engage with top experts, scholars, and entrepreneurs who share a concern about the future of money and the threats posed by central bank digital currencies.

The main stage will host a panel discussion on CBDCs, titled ‘Central Bank Digital Currencies: Financial Convenience or Orwellian Nightmare?,’ featuring Robert Breedlove, Stephan Livera, and Peter St. Onge, moderated by Students For Liberty’s CEO, Dr. Wolf von Laer.

Click the button below to sign up for updates and secure your spot at this exciting event. We can’t wait to see you there!

This piece solely expresses the opinion of the author and not necessarily the organization as a whole. Students For Liberty is committed to facilitating a broad dialogue for liberty, representing a variety of opinions.