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Bank of England on Crypto: Not If, but When

The Bank of England (BoE) has published recent findings for central bank digital currencies (CBDCs) that indicate such a government-issued currency is no longer a possibility, but an inevitability.

The BoE’s recent findings suggest that a CBDC is entirely feasible and can be introduced with a minimum of risk, although it is unclear exactly what form it will finally take, once commercial banks are forced to adopt a new system.

In line with several countries around the world, the BoE is beginning to examine the credentials of a CBDC in order to streamline its banking procedures, enabling funds to be expedited quickly and efficiency, updating outmoded banking systems.

The possibility of a government-issued cryptocurrency being not too distant is not that surprising, given the current mood at top levels of government in the UK. A ‘Cryptoassets Task Force’ is currently underway to examine the space to see if it can become a feature of the UK financial environment. British Chancellor Philip Hammond recently launched a task force to help safeguard consumers which include representatives from the Treasury, the BoE and financial watchdog FCA. He said the taskforce would help the UK “manage the risks around crypto-assets”.

Such calls for regulation were also made recently by the Governor of the BoE, Mark Carney, when he discussed the impact of cryptocurrencies’ core technology indicating that he was not against innovation provided by cryptocurrencies, stating that regulation could potentially “serve the public better”. This following his comments that cryptocurrency “had pretty much failed” as a source of money.

Three models suggested

The Financial Institution Model (Model F1) is a system where only financial institutions will be able to access the CBDC. The report suggests this is a safe approach offering a stable approach to banking, reports Finder.

The Economy-Wide Model (Model EW) where financial institutions can directly access CBDC, and businesses and households can access CBDC through financial institutions. Under this model, all banks, non-bank financial institutions (NBFIs), CBDC exchanges, households and businesses can have a CBDC account at the central bank itself. But only banks, NBFIs and CBDC exchanges can trade CBDC directly with the central bank. Households and firms can go through the exchanges, which might be standalone entities or banks/NBFIs, to convert deposits between CBDC and pounds.

The Narrow Bank Model (Model FI+). A system where financial institutions can access CBDC, and then use a spin-off “indirect CBDC” (iCBDC) for its business and household customers. This system is designed to include CBDC as the actual central bank money, and iCBDC as the connected digital currency that people interact with on a day-to-day basis.

The main question being asked now that the bank has made these significant moves towards a CBDC is what kind of currency will emerge. Will it be a digital currency for all to streamline the population’s everyday banking needs or will it simply be an instrument with which banks can save costs?

 

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