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Florida Governor Ron DeSantis looks to block the creation of a digital dollar

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(Kitco News) - Ron DeSantis, the Republican Governor of Florida who is expected to enter the 2024 Presidential race, has called for a ban on the creation of a central bank digital currency (CBDC) in the United States.

Desantis made the comments during a press conference on Monday while standing in front of a podium that read “Big Brother’s Digital Dollar,” claiming that the creation of a digital dollar would grant “more power” to the government.

“[A CBDC] provides the government with a direct view of all consumer activities,” said the Florida governor. “Any way they can get into society to exercise their agenda, they will do it. So, what the central bank digital currency is all about is surveilling Americans and controlling [the] behavior of Americans.”

The presidential hopeful cited concerns over rising inflation in the U.S., increasing interest rates, and the recent pressure on banks as examples of how government policies have directly had a negative effect on U.S. consumers.

To help support his case, Desantis pointed to the rollout of the digital yuan in China as an attempt by the Chinese government “to monitor citizen behavior allowing for the surveillance of spending habits and to cut off access to goods and services,” and highlighted the muted adoption of the e-Naira in Nigeria.

“You’re opening up a major can of worms and you’re handing a central bank huge, huge amounts of power,” he warned.

According to a press release that accompanied the announcement, the new legislative proposal is looking to protect consumers and businesses in Florida by “Expressly prohibiting the use of a federally adopted Central Bank Digital Currency as money within Florida’s Uniform Commercial Code (UCC); instituting protections against a central global currency by prohibiting any CBDC issued by a foreign reserve or foreign sanctioned central bank; and calling on likeminded states to join Florida in adopting similar prohibitions within their respective Commercial Codes to fight back against this concept nationwide.”

Governor Desantis alleged that the creation of a CBDC is really about “surveillance and control,” warning that “the reckless adoption of a ‘centralized digital dollar’ will stifle innovation and promote government-sanctioned surveillance.”

As opposed to decentralized cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin, CBDCs are directly controlled and issued by governments, potentially giving them the ability to see all consumer activity and limit certain purchases.

“A Central Bank Digital Currency is the cornerstone of a federal government that could track each and every transaction that happens in the world,” said State Chief Financial Officer Jimmy Patronis. “There would be no privacy, and if there is no privacy, there are no rights.”

The press release also cited the effect that a CBDC would have on commercial banks, saying that it could “diminish the role of community banks and credit unions in our financial system as CBDC currency would be a direct liability of the Federal government, rather than of a chartered financial institution, shrinking market lending power.”

'CBDC Anti-Surveillance State Act' introduced in an effort to limit the Fed's authority over a digital dollar

It’s unclear whether or not Desantis has the legal authority to ban the use of CBDCs in the state, with some legal and constitutional scholars arguing that this type of decision should be left up to higher courts, as it has significant implications for the nation as a whole.

Article I, Section 8, Clause 5 of the U.S. Constitution grants the federal government the power to "coin money, regulate the value thereof, and of foreign coin, and fix the standard of weights and measures," while federal laws, such as the Federal Reserve Act, give the federal government exclusive power over monetary policy and the regulation of the banking system.

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