Will the Federal Reserve give everyone a checking account? Researchers at the St. Louis Fed say the agency is likely to create “central bank electronic money for all,” MarketWatch staffer Greg Robb reports.

The Fed would only need to allow households and firms to open accounts with it, which would allow the central bank to make payments with Fed-issued electronic money instead of commercial bank deposits.

Critics say the idea would be inefficient, would promote crime, and would make it tougher for the Fed to use negative interest rates as a policy option in a severe recession.

But many experts say the use of cash will diminish further in the years to come.

“A large part of the population will consider [Fed electronic money] a close substitute for cash, and this will make it easier to say goodbye to cash,” the [St. Louis Fed] blog post said. At the moment, only a few financial intermediaries have access to central-bank electronic money.

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