The Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco is looking for software developers to help research and design a central bank digital currency (CBDC).
One job listing posted to LinkedIn is for a “Senior Application Architect - Digital Currency.” It was posted to LinkedIn less than a day ago and, after capturing attention across the crypto space, already garnered 23 applicants.
A central bank digital currency is a tokenized version of a country’s fiat currency. Similar to stablecoins, a CBDC’s value tracks that of a currency issued by a government like the U.S. dollar. But instead of being managed by private companies, a CBDC is issued by a central bank like the Federal Reserve.
The position is one of three job listings that were originally published 18 days ago on the Federal Reserve System Careers website. In addition to the Senior Application Architect, the federal bank is also hiring a Lead Application Developer and a Senior Application Developer for digital currency.
The Senior Application Architect hired by the San Fransisco Fed will play a critical role in both designing a CBDC and overseeing its development, according to the job post, and will be responsible for both mentoring engineers and developing roadmaps that “balance tactical and strategic needs” related to the project. One of the position's qualifications is experience working with digital payment systems, cryptocurrencies, or other CBDCs.
“Given the dollar’s important role, Federal Reserve System seeks to further understand the cost and benefits of the potential technologies for central bank digital currencies,” the posting states.
The posting goes on to say that the team developing a CBDC has the “feel of a start-up,” and that the Senior Application Architect role lists a salary range of between $134,900 and $215,400.
The Lead Application Developer and Senior Application Developer positions are intended to “implement example systems related to a Central Bank Digital Currency” and will be paid up to $215,400 and $176,300, respectively. All three positions are based in San Francisco.
A growing number of countries throughout the globe are either developing a CBDC or actively piloting one, according to the American think tank the Atlantic Council. The think tank’s website notes that 114 countries representing over 95% of global GDP are exploring a CBDC.
Seventeen countries, including Russia and China, are currently piloting a CBDC, while 33 nations are developing one, such as the U.S. and Japan, which announced last Friday its CBDC pilot program will launch in April. 11 countries have fully launched a CBDC, including the Bahamas and Nigeria.
Countries like China continue to test their version of a CBDC—referred to as the digital yuan—which now reaches 260 million people and is set to expand this year. In response, the United States has increasingly focused on its version of a tokenized U.S. dollar.
“We’re doing a great deal of work,” Fed Chairman Jerome Powell said last June, referencing guidance on implementing a CBDC that Congress will eventually receive from the U.S. central bank. “I think it’s something we really need to explore as a country.”
The Fed has contemplated a CBDC since 2017, and a pilot program for U.S.-based financial institutions launched in New York in November, where banks said they would work closely with the Federal Reserve Bank of New York on testing a digital currency platform.
The platform is referred to as the Regulated Liability Network (RLN) and is a proof-of-concept that includes participants like Mastercard and Wells Fargo. However, the project only uses simulated data, where digital tokens represent customer deposits, and “is not intended to advance any specific policy outcome” on CDBCs, the group stated.
A symposium co-hosted by the San Fransisco Fed in September discussed CBDCs and whether the U.S. could be leaning into the technology because of FOMO—fear of missing out—according to Federal Reserve Chief Innovation Officer Sunayna Tuteja.
“I think there’s a predicate that, oh, [CBDCs are] a shiny new object,” she said. “And we should be cautious of that because oftentimes this momentum that, ‘Oh my God, a central bank has to do something [...] because we’re trying to chase a shiny object syndrome or because we’re doing it based on a thesis of FOMO,’ that never takes off.”
During the chat, Tuteja said a U.S. CBDC is “very much in the research and interrogation phase,” but it seems the Fed is now setting its scope on development based on descriptions of the new job postings.
The Federal Reserve Bank of San Fransisco and senior talent acquisition specialist Shanthi Balasubramanian did not immediately respond to requests for comment from Decrypt.