Swiss central bank announces plans for wholesale CBDC pilot with ‘real money’: Report

The head of the Swiss National Bank (SNB) has announced that the bank will launch a wholesale central bank digital currency (wCBDC) pilot project, according to a report. Reuters quoted bank chair Thomas Jordan as saying the project would begin “soon.” 

The wCBDC will be issued on the Swiss SIX digital exchange and run for a limited time, Jordan was quoted as saying at the Point Zero Forum in Zurich on June 26. The SIX Group also runs Switzerland’s largest stock exchange. Jordan said, according to the report:

“This is not just an experiment, it will be real money equivalent to bank reserves and the objective is to test real transactions with market participants.”

SNB governing board member Thomas Moser told Cointelegraph last year that CBDCs could work well with decentralized finance. The SNB integrated a wCBDC into the back-office systems of five banks early last year as part of its Project Helvetia, which had previously completed a proof of concept for wCBDC.

That was a pivot from the position expressed a year prior by SNB chief economist Carlos Lenz, who said blockchain was not a suitable platform for CBDC, and the country had not intention of issuing one.

Related: BIS joins France and Switzerland’s central banks on cross-border CBDC project

Thomas said of retail CBDC that “we are a little bit prudent at the moment,” but he did not rule out its introduction.

SNB governing board member Andréa Maechler, speaking at a different event from Jordan at the Point Zero Forum this year, said that the central bank does not foresee the replacement of cash in the country. Maechler said last year that SNB officials “believe the risks outweigh the benefits” in regard to a retail CBDC.

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