Bank of England chief warns of CBDC ‘challenges’ on fiat money

The outgoing governor of the Bank of England has warned of the risks of central bank digital currencies (CBDCs), highlighting the potential impact of CBDCs on fiat currency and the wider financial system.

Mark Carney, who is due to leave his post on Friday, addressed the risks posed by central bank digital currencies, highlighting the “significant challenges” that could be posed to financial stability.

First reported by Reuters, the comments come at a time when the bank is reported to be considering the feasibility of issuing its own digital currency on the blockchain:

While CBDC poses a number of opportunities, it could raise significant challenges for maintaining monetary and financial stability…and would need to be very carefully designed if it were to be introduced.

Carney said there were likely implications for commercial banks, should significant balances move towards CBDCs: “If significant deposit balances are moved from commercial banks into CBDC, it could have implications for the balance sheets of commercial banks and…the amount of credit provided by banks to the wider economy.”

The comments come in the final days of Carney’s tenure at the bank, as he prepares to take up post as the U.K. government’s Finance Adviser for COP26. He is set to be replaced by Andrew Bailey, the current head of the U.K. financial regulator, the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA).

In the report, the bank also addressed the decline of cash, with consumers and businesses alike increasingly opting for digital payment alternatives.

The Bank of England is scheduled to meet, alongside representatives from five other financial regulators, to discuss models for issuing a digital currency. On its preferred approach, the bank said that any digital currency would be denominated in Sterling, and would not be allowed to entirely replace cash notes.

It comes as other central banks are already testing their own digital currencies. In Sweden, for example, the central bank is running tests on issuing a digital currency dubbed the ‘e-Krona’, while other central banks are known to be running their own feasibility assessments on the technology.

To learn more about central bank digital currencies and some of the design decisions that need to be considered when creating and launching it, read nChain’s CBDC playbook.

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