Digital identity, which collects data about people's behavior, and digital currencies will be used to decide whether users will be allowed to own certain goods, to travel, vote, etc., according to a false narrative also published in Romania. In reality, digital identity can already be used to obtain various public and private services, and digital currency is another form of money existence.
NEWS: “The Deputy Managing Director of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) has recently explained how Central Bank Digital Currencies (CBDCs) can be programmed to determine what people shall or shall not buy and insisted that they should be used in conjunction with a Chinese-style social credit system. Unlike cryptocurrency, which is private, the Central Bank Digital Currency (CBDC) will be issued and controlled by central banks themselves. In many ways they will be the same as banknotes, but each transaction will be monitored to verify compliance.”
NARRATIVE: The global occult will bring humanity under control by imposing digital currencies and digital identities.
LOCAL CONTEXT/ETHOS: The theory about the elite fully controlling humanity is not new . It has been constantly adapted, depending on the current events, sometimes the narratives even ending up contradicting each other. Many of them have been maintained, over the past years, by the Russian propaganda and amplified through social media and media outlets that promote conservative themes and support radical and nationalist, sovereignist or anti-vaxxer movements. In order to better understand the success enjoyed by this Russian strategy, we should recall that, during the Covid19 pandemic, for example, 66% of Romanians believed the conspiracy theories promoting the connection between the pandemic and the “world occult.” Related conspiracy theories spoke of imposing control through the digital passport, inventing the Omicron strain to impose a global dictatorship , or using the vaccines for evil purposes.
As the current energy crisis triggered by the Russian invasion of Ukraine will ultimately lead to a financial crisis, the topic of individual finances has become the main narrative promoted by conspiracy theorists. In mid-October, an International Monetary Fund (IMF) conference was held with the title: “Central Bank Digital Currencies for Financial Inclusion: Risks and Benefits”. The well-known conspiracy site The Exposé brought to the attention of the public its own interpretation of the guests’ speeches, and a translated version of the article was published on activenews.ro, which wrote that soon we will be able to use our own money only if the government gives us permission and we will only be able to buy what we are allowed to. Activenews is one of the most famous sources of fake news in the Romanian online media, and over time Veridica has debunked several conspiracy theories promoted on this site, just as the international press did with the false narratives promoted by its British counterpart, The Exposé.
PURPOSE: To induce the idea among public opinion that the advanced technology in the financial field and the introduction of digital currencies are aimed at helping some occult forces control people.
WHY THE NARRATIVE IS FALSE: The dialogue at the aforementioned conference was centered on increasing global financial inclusion with digital currencies issued by central banks. Financial inclusion is a concept whereby people and businesses can access safe, efficient and convenient payment and other financial services. For this purpose, the digital currency issued by a central bank (Central Bank Digital Currency - CBDC) is not intended to replace cash, but to complement it. In financial language, we are talking about an electronic form of money, complementary to the other existing forms (cash and bank accounts) used to make fast and secure payments. A digital currency is the money of a central bank. This means that it would be backed by a central bank, which has the responsibility of maintaining the value of the money, regardless of its physical or digital form.
In terms of financial inclusion, a digital currency means that those who do not have a bank account can have easier and safer access to cashless money and payments. CBDCs are more cost-effective than physical money because they have lower transaction costs and transfer times. They also reduce printing costs because instead of printing money, the central bank issues electronic coins. Moreover, banking with CBDC is available 24/7 as it is not limited by banks' schedule.
Returning to the narrative of the total control imposed by the “occult” through local governments, we must agree that the choice of the former vice-governor of the Central Bank of China and current deputy director of the IMF, the Chinese Bo Li, to exemplify the operation of the entire digital financial system, was not the happiest. But what the Chinese official said has absolutely nothing to do with violating the right to privacy or restricting any freedom. Targeting payments for social assistance, consumption coupons, meal vouchers, holiday vouchers, etc. is already a fact. Even in Romania, thousands of social cards have been cancelled because they were used for completely different purposes than the one for which they were issued. As a principle of allocation of social funds, directing them accurately to the destination and recipients established from the start cannot be something imputable to the authorities, on the contrary.
Another criticism leveled by conspiracy theorists with regard to the new technologies is digital identity verification, considered essential for the function of CBDCs, especially in international transactions. Digital identity already exists and is becoming more relevant with every new loyalty card registered for cheaper medicines or pots, with every free pack of cigarettes accepted in exchange for a phone number, and with every social media engagement. It is not imposed on us, we are building it ourselves.
Also, the use of behavioral patterns inferred by a computer from the analysis of financial transactions is not new. For years, our activity has been analyzed in real time by increasingly intelligent algorithms, and data about us is stored to personalize online experiences. The trading of said data to third parties would not be something new, unfortunately, it has already happened , at incredibly high levels. But behind these illegal and immoral practices are not some occult minds, but normal people who are usually caught and punished.