CB Radios – Cross Border Instant Payments and Central Bank Digital Currency

What do Citizens Band Radios, Cross Border Instant Payments and Central Bank Digital Currencies have in common? The answers may surprise you!

When I was growing up Citizens Band (‘CB’) Radios and ham radios were used for the short- and long-distance exchange of non-commercial messages. While still used today in many countries around the world these services have been replaced by large global telecommunications networks and handheld devices.

Much like CB and ham radios, global payment strategies have evolved with new industry initiatives such as cross border instant payments and Central Bank Digital Currencies—all made possible by new message and format standards and technologies.

When thinking about these evolutions I am stuck by the correlations around these disparate services.

  • The CB radios used in many countries are land-based radio systems that allow short-distance person-to-person bidirectional voice communication between individuals. The modern payment equivalent could be viewed as payment services provided by Zelle and Venmo.
  • Multiple countries have created similar CB and ham radio services, with varying technical standards and requirements for licensing. The modern payment equivalent could be viewed as many of the cross border instant payment schemes being implemented and the ongoing Central Bank Digital Currency initiatives and pilots underway that are facing the challenges of interoperability, compatible messaging standards and regulatory scrutiny.
  • For ham radio operators’ national governments regulate technical and operational characteristics of transmissions and issue individual stations licenses with a unique identifying call sign that must be used in all transmissions. The modern payment equivalent could be viewed as an account number, an account alias, an IBAN, a national clearing code or an LEI.
  • CB radio users created their own unique nicknames that were referred to as handles again akin to a modern account alias.
  • A recent article published by IEEE Spectrum (1) talked about the uncertain future of the ham radio. The article focused on software-defined radio and cheap hardware shaking up a hobby long associated with engineering. The modern payment equivalent is the acceptance of ISO 20022 message standards for cross border instant payments and the acceptance of digital ledger technology.
  • CB slang is the distinctive language developed among users of Citizens Band radio. The slang itself is not only cyclical, but also geographical and can differ on their protocols and terminology. The modern payment equivalent is the acceptance of ISO 20022 message standards but with regional differences.

Emerging digital technologies are changing the world we live in, the way we live our lives, the way business is conducted …and the way payments are created, transmitted, received, and processed.

In CB parlance here’s hoping that the evolution in payments continues breaking the ‘ol needle, hoping for a clean shot, and that things continue coming in loud’n proud …and with that I am down ‘n out!

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