In brief

  • The Office of the Director of National Intelligence wants to conduct research on the US dollar's dominance.
  • The advertisement notes that a global cryptocurrency or digital currency could threaten its status.
  • Commentators have already suggested China's digital yuan could rival the US dollar.

The Office of the Director of National Intelligence is on the lookout for postdoctoral researchers who can help it work out what would happen if the US dollar lost global dominance. 

As first reported by Coindesk, an advertisement for the Intelligence Community Postdoctoral Research Fellowship Program wants researchers to work out how to maintain the US dollar as the world’s reserve currency. 

The US’s dominance over the global monetary supply could be threatened, if cryptocurrency enthusiasts are correct that there will be “a global cryptocurrency or a national digital currency.” In such an eventuality, “the U.S. would lose both its status in the world and its global authorities.” 

China's digital currency could threaten the US dollar's global status. Image: Shutterstock.

That’s because, according to the advertisement, having the US dollar as the world’s reserve currency is vital for US national security. It “enables the US to impose and enforce sanctions on entities that violate treaties or international law – results are essential to counter-proliferation and counter-terrorism activities.” 

“Any international transaction settled in US dollars, gives the U.S. jurisdiction over financial crimes associated with those transactions, to include support to terrorism and weapons-of-mass destruction (WMD) proliferation.”

This happened when, in 2018, the US banned some Iranian banks from the SWIFT international payments settlement system, which processes the bulk of the world’s US dollar payments. The sanctions were to put pressure on Iran to give up its nuclear missiles programs. 

But if Iran moves onto its own crypto-based SWIFT alternative, like the one its Prime Minister pitched in December? Then the US’s sanctions don’t seem as scary.

North Korea has already suggested building its own digital currency to avoid US sanctions. Former Ethereum Foundation researcher Virgil Griffiths was arrested for allegedly helping North Korea in its quest.

And digital currencies are certainly on their way. China, with whom the US is locked in a major trade war, is about to release its own digital currency. Commentators have already suggested its innovation could help the renminbi to threaten the US dollar’s status.