Despite the fact that central bank digital currencies (CBDCs) are frequently called ‘a solution in search of a problem’, some 86 per cent of central banks worldwide are actively researching the potential for a CBDC. Their design, implementation and adoption will be strongly influenced by country specific objectives and there is no ‘one-size-fits-all’ solution. One prominent objective for a CBDC is financial inclusion, i.e., facilitating access to financial services for the world’s 1.7 billion under- or unbanked. The implicit assumption is that a CBDC and its associated technology provides better access to financial services than current systems. But this is putting the CBDC cart before the horse: a CBDC can at best be part of the solution, but it is unlikely to be the only solution. For a CBDC to increase financial inclusion, it must address the causes of exclusion, and any CBDC initiative would need to be embedded in a much wider set of reforms undertaken by the government in co-operation with the private sector. A CBDC will enhance inclusion only if this dimension features prominently in its design from the outset. There are more straightforward and targeted ways to support access to financial services than to launch a CBDC.