Reserve Bank of Australia: ‘No need’ for Aussie CBDC

The Australian central bank has said it sees no need to issue a central bank digital currency, bucking the trend towards CBDCs with central banks around the world.

According to reports, the Reserve Bank of Australia said in a recent paper on payments that it was skeptical of the benefits of CBDCs, as well as expressing concerns over private stablecoins and their potential impact on the monetary system.

The bank said in light of the country’s new real-time payments platform, there was no strong policy argument for embracing a centrally issued digital currency. Furthermore, with Australians more reluctant than people in other countries towards switching from cash to digital payments, the bank said there was presently no impetus to move towards a digital currency.

Notably during the COVID-19 pandemic, cash usage has actually increased across Australia, with the bank pledging to support paper banknotes “for as long as Australians wish to keep using them.”

The bank went on to say that even for those digital currencies that are reported to be nearing a viable launch, like Facebook’s Libra, the regulatory picture remains highly uncertain, with the bank flagging a number of potential downsides of CBDCs.

Under current conditions, banks in Australia rely on cash deposits for as much as 60% of their funding, with the Reserve Bank noting any switch away from cash could make banks more dependent on capital markets.

“The loss of deposit funding and greater reliance on other funding sources could result in some increase in banks’ cost of funds and result in a reduction in the size of their balance sheets and in the amount of financial intermediation.”

The paper also suggests the bank thinks CBDCs would leave institutions more vulnerable to a run in the event of financial distress.

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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