Swiss National Bank’s Jordan against issuing retail cenbank digital currency

By Thomson Reuters Apr 8, 2024 | 11:21 AM

ZURICH (Reuters) – The Swiss National Bank sees no need for a central bank digital currency (CBDC) to be issued to the general public, Chairman Thomas Jordan said on Monday.

“Consumers and businesses already have access to a wide range of efficient and innovative payment instruments offered by the private sector,” Jordan told an event in Zurich, in remarks that addressed a product known as a retail CBDC.

“Retail CBDC could fundamentally alter the current monetary system and the role of central banks and commercial banks, with far-reaching consequences for the financial system,” he said, with the risks outweighing any potential benefits.

Still, the SNB has been trialling a scheme using wholesale CBDC – which enables payments using central bank money between commercial banks – to speed up and make payments cheaper.

The central bank last year launched a pilot project using CBDC for financial institutions, with UBS and Zuercher Kantonal Bank among those participating.

Four bond issuances, from the cantons of Basel-Stadt and Zurich and the cities of Lugano and St Gallen, were successfully settled with wholesale CBDC as part of the pilot.

The trial, called Project Helvetia III, showed there were benefits from using central bank money to settle transactions, Jordan said.

“Swiss franc wholesale CBDC can be issued on a third-party platform and used to settle tokenised assets safely and efficiently,” he said.

Still, questions remained before a decision could be made on whether a wholesale CBDC should be introduced generally in Switzerland, Jordan said.

Issues to be resolved included whether Swiss franc digital central bank money could be held overnight, how it would be remunerated, and which financial institutions should have access.

The SNB is also looking into how operations such as repos or SNB Bills could be settled using Swiss franc wholesale CBDC, Jordan said.

(Reporting by John Revill; Editing by Dave Graham)