The Swiss National Bank does not see any overall benefit from issuing a central bank digital currency (CBDC) to be used by the general public and used in day-to-day transactions, governing board member Andrea Maechler said on Tuesday. “We believe the risks outweigh the benefits,” Maechler told a financial conference held in Frankfurt, saying a retail CBDC meant central banks taking on the risks carried by the private sector and increased the risk of bank runs.
“Financial inclusion was also not a sufficient argument for CBDCs in Switzerland.”
Financial inclusion was also not a sufficient argument for CBDCs in Switzerland, Maechler said, with almost 100% of the country’s working population having access to bank accounts, while cash was still widely used. “This does not mean the SNB is not interested in CBDC, but our focus is to look at the role that wholesale CBDCs could play,” Maechler said, referring to their use in transactions between financial institutions like banks.
SNB used digital currency to settle transactions involving five commercial banks.
Switzerland’s central bank revealed last week that it had successfully used digital currency to settle transactions involving five commercial banks. That was the latest trial of the technology in wholesale markets. The trial, called Project Helvetia, is expected to bring the introduction of central bank digital currencies a step nearer in Switzerland, which has conducted some of the most advanced central bank digital currency (CBDC) experiments in Europe. Central banks worldwide have stepped up work on CBDCs to make existing payment systems more efficient and counter the challenge from cryptocurrencies, with research focusing on versions for both wholesale and retail use.