The UK’s digital currency project will have real benefits for the country’s businesses.
That’s according to Ben Broadbent, deputy governor for monetary policy at the Bank of England, who told a conference on Monday (27 February) that the country’s central bank was paying “close attention” to the regulatory implications of new payment technologies such as a central bank digital currency (CBDC).
Broadbent, whose comments were reported by Bloomberg News, said that “the experience of digitisation so far is that new products and services enabled by new technologies can be adopted very quickly and at scale”.
“For financial institutions, for businesses, for individuals, this is obviously creating opportunities. We would expect to see continued improvements, reduction in friction and cost of payments.”
Broadbent’s comments come three weeks after the Bank of England (BoE) and HM Treasury announced that they were exploring the feasibility of a CBDC, which they’ve dubbed “Britcoin”.
Last month, the two bodies launched a formal consultation on setting out safeguards for the introduction of a CDBC, which may someday sit alongside paper money in England. The CBDC – also known as “digital sterling” or “digital pound” – would be issued by the BoE and backed by the government.
“We consider it likely at this stage that the digital pound will be needed in the future. It is too early to decide whether to introduce the digital pound, but we believe that preparatory work is justified,” the consultation paper said.
The Bank of England has said it hopes to launch a CBDC by the end of the decade, but notes that a potential Britcoin would not be created until at least 2025.
Some 114 nations, representing 95% of the world’s gross domestic product, are exploring what a CBDC might look like for their countries. And about 60 countries are in an advanced stage of that exploration, with a national CBDC either under development, in pilot or already in place.
However, these projects are not without their critics, and the UK is no exception.
“We have yet to hear a convincing case for why the UK needs a retail CBDC,” says a report by the House of Lords Economic Affairs Committee, which goes on to stress that it sees the digital pound as “a solution in search of a problem”.