Central banks toe-dip into digital

Sweden is a rare pioneer when it comes to pushing forward on plans for a central bank digital currency. Most nations have stayed at considerations, shows a BIS survey.

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While most central banks are investigating the possibilities of so called central bank digital currencies, CBDCs, hardly any have yet reached stages of action. This is concluded in a survey made by the Bank for International Settlements (BIS), according to news site Finextra.

Sweden is an exception to the case – pushing ahead with plans to build a technical framework for the issuance of a new electronic currency, the e-krona.

Only five pilots

Out of 63 central banks surveyed by BIS, 70 percent are, or will soon be, engaged in CBDC work, most targeting both general purpose and wholesale CBDCs.


Yet only five central banks are at the pilot stage, and even fewer consider it likely that they will be issuing such currency in the short or medium term. Most central banks have done enough work to clarify the challenges of a launch, but are not convinced that benefits would outweigh costs.

Controversial topic

CBDCs seem to be taken most seriously in emerging markets, but have been subject to hot discussion in the last years. IMF chief Christine Lagarde recently argued that they could help states manage a retreat from cash, and an EU report has suggested they could stabilize the financial system. BIS, in contrast, have advised central banks to stay off developing their own digital currencies, seeing it as a move into unchartered waters with potentially serious risks.

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