Bank of Canada: Digital dollar to focus on accessibility and inclusion

A digital dollar should be available to all Canadians, with a focus on accessibility and inclusion, according to a report published by the country’s central bank.

The Bank of Canada said it was aiming to develop a central bank digital currency (CBDC) that could mimic bank notes on the blockchain, providing the same availability and accessibility people have come to expect from fiat cash.

The comments come as part of an analytical note published by the central bank, in which staff set out their vision for how a central bank digital currency should work for the country.

While the analytical note is the result of work done by bank analysts, and therefore does not necessarily represent the official position of the central bank, the comments nevertheless give some indication as to the thinking behind the scenes at the Bank of Canada.

The report says a CBDC should be available to all Canadians regardless of whether or not they have a smartphone, and that transactions should be possible even in the event of power outages and network failures.

The bank is currently soliciting opinions from various user groups, in a bid to shape its plans for a future digital currency issued on the blockchain. As part of the exercise, the bank is currently developing a so-called “universal access device” (UAD) which would “incorporate visual and security elements from bank notes,” as well as enabling users without smartphones to access and transact in the currency.

The proposed UAD would be the same size as a credit or debit card, and could allow users to load value from a variety of locations to deliver access.

The proposals for the digital dollar come at a time of increasing interest in CBDCs from central banks around the world.

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