Some analysts from Canada’s central bank, the Bank of Canada (BoC), opined that some of the key characteristics of a proposed central bank digital currency (CBDC) model should be accessibility, efficiency, affordability, and resilience.
Bank of Canada CBDC Could Adopt Cash Characteristics
The Bank of Canada published a new staff analytical note detailing research carried out by the central bank’s experts regarding its proposed CBDC. According to the paper, a digital Canadian dollar like the fiat should be accessible to everyone regardless of their age or financial strength, including people residing in remote areas.
Proper consultation with communities is essential in introducing a CBDC model tailored to people’s needs. Also, the note stated that the central bank is looking to offer its CBDC via a universal access device (UAD), which will have some characteristics of fiat. The proposed UAD could be designed to fit into people’s wallets, effectively carry out small transactions, be affordable, and offer maximum inclusion.
Speaking on the proposed plan of the UAD, the paper said:
“The design of a UAD could follow similar principles and incorporate visual and security elements from current banknotes. This would allow Canadians to recognize the device as a Bank of Canada product and adopt it with confidence.”
Apart from having cash-like features, the bank is also looking into designing the UAD in the absence of a centralized network. The access devices could also function over long periods using local power.
The BoC has been actively researching the development of a CBDC. In addition to this recent note, the Canadian central bank earlier released a publication covering privacy for CBDC. According to that note, experts cautioned that zero-knowledge proofs are still at the early stage with few systems using the technique. Also, complications arise when there is a need to satisfy regulatory requirements, and also maintain privacy.
Central Banks Keeping Their CBDC Projects Afloat
With the various researches carried out by the Bank of Canada, the central bank is, however, in no hurry to issue a CBDC. A senior executive stated that the BoC will develop a digital Canadian dollar only when it is absolutely necessary.
At a time when several central banks around the globe, including the People’s Bank of China (PBoC), are putting preparations in top gear to roll out a central bank digital currency (CBDC), Timothy Lane, the Deputy Governor of the Bank of Canada has made it clear the central bank may not develop a digital version of the Canadian dollar anytime soon.
In his speech titled “Money and Payments in the Digital Age,” Governor Lane acknowledged the fact that innovative technologies are rapidly transforming the global financial landscape, with “contactless tap and go” payments, mobile banking and online transactions now gaining ground.
Lane also stated that in a 2017 Bank of Canada Survey that tried to find out how residents pay for goods and services, respondents revealed that they used cash to pay for just one-third of their purchases, a sharp decline compared to more than half just a decade ago.
On the other hand, other countries have made considerable progress with their various CBDC projects. Thailand’s central bank recently partnered with SCG to conduct a pilot test for its CBDC. Also, South Korea which earlier introduced a pilot program for its planned CBDC project later set up a legal advisory committee to check any regulatory hurdles.