Scandinavian Working Papers in Economics
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Bank of Finland Research Discussion Papers, Bank of Finland

No 26/2001:
Payment and financial innovation, reserve demand and implementation of monetary policy

Harri Lahdenperä ()

Abstract: The consequences of electronic trading, payment and settlement have recently become one of the main topics in monetary economics. New innovations in payment and settlement technology are challenging the central bank’s monopoly over the supply of base money, which is generally considered the cornerstone of the central bank’s power to set the short-term interest rate for the economy. This paper demonstrates that the development of the economy’s transaction technology over time has indeed had a significant quantitative impact on the demand for currency and bank reserves, and indirectly on the modalities of the supply of reserves by the central bank. In contrast to past trends, the latest innovations in payment and settlement technology imply not only a quantitative change but also a qualitative one, as they enable private institutions to issue settlement money that competes with the liabilities of the central bank. The paper presents a model on the implementation of monetary policy in an economy where such private substitutes for central bank money are available for the settlement of transactions, showing that effective monetary control by the central bank might indeed be compromised in those circumstances. However, the study also highlights several attributes that may distinguish central bank liabilities from any private alternatives, some of which are based on the central bank’s traditional role as the banker for the Government.

Keywords: monetary policy; reserve demand; payment systems; financial innovation; (follow links to similar papers)

JEL-Codes: E41; E43; E51; (follow links to similar papers)

61 pages, December 12, 2001

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