In US Congress, New Bill Demands ‘Digital Dollars’ by January for Monthly COVID-19 Aid

As Americans wait for COVID-19 stimulus checks, the Digital Dollar has returned to legislation in the United States that looks to extend monthly payments for the long haul.

On April 16, Representative Rashida Tlaib (D-MI) introduced the “Automatic Boost to Communities Act,” or the ABC Act in the House of Representatives.

The bill looks to extend monthly payments of $2,000, called BOOST payments, until at least next March, and further requires the development of digital dollar wallets for citizens to receive them. The bill reads:

“No later than January 1, 2021, the Secretary shall offer all recipients of BOOST payments the option to receive their payments in digital dollar wallets. BOOST recipients receiving their payments through interim BOOST cards shall instead receive a Federal Reserve Account for debit cards and be given the option to sign up online for fully operational digital dollar account wallets.”

The bill goes on to describe those digital dollar wallets as public services accessible at banks and post offices at no cost to users:

“Digital dollar account wallets shall not be subject to any account fees, minimum balances, or maximum balances, and shall not be closed or restricted on the basis of profitability.”

Last week, Rep. Tlaib, who sits on the House Financial Services Committee, led a coalition of representatives voicing their support for recurring monthly payments in the face of the economic downturn in the U.S.

Earlier versions of the stimulus package had floated the idea of a digital dollar to speed up aid payments, but by the time that President Trump signed the bill into law on March 27, those provisions had disappeared.

Despite being scrapped from that initial stimulus package, the digital dollar provisions survived in a number of bills in both the House and the Senate. Compared to these bills, the 21 pages of the new ABC Act focus closely on recurrent digital payments.

Many have criticized the speed with which the current financial system has distributed the one-time payments of $1,200, as well as their relative value for what looks to be long-term economic hardship.

At least two proponents of a digital dollar, J. Christopher Giancarlo and Daniel Gorfine, recently told that the stimulus aid will present a valuable use case for a future digital dollar.

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