Bank of England Project Finds CBDCs Could Introduce 'Programmability' to Money
A trial conducted by the Bank of England (BoE) and the Bank for International Settlements (BIS) Innovation Hub has highlighted the potential central bank digital currencies (CBDCs) have for introducing “programmability” to money.
The findings of the trial, which was dubbed Project Rosalind, indicate that CBDCs could give central banks and governments a number of new tools they never before had, including the opportunity to decide how, where, and for what people’s money should be spend.
Specifically, Project Rosalind focused on the role of application programming interfaces (APIs) in the design of CBDCs, and examined over 30 different use cases that a well-designed digital currency could offer.
Among the claimed benefits is increased convenience for consumers, for example by enabling them to pay via QR codes and other methods at places like shops and restaurants.
Other benefits mentioned included smart contract-like features as known from the world of crypto, where individuals and businesses theoretically could allocate funds for specific purposes and trigger payments based on predefined conditions.
On the flip side, however, programmable CBDCs would undoubtedly also increase the control that central banks and governments could have over individuals' money.
Implications beyond the UK
While Project Rosalind was a joint initiative between the BoE and the BIS Innovation Hub London, the researchers emphasized that their findings have implications beyond the United Kingdom.
They encouraged central bankers worldwide to review the results and consider the insights when designing retail CBDC systems.
Commenting in the BIS’ press release, Francesca Hopwood Road, Head of the BIS Innovation Hub London Centre, said the study has pushed forward innovation on CBDCs.
“The Rosalind experiment has advanced central bank innovation in two key areas: by exploring how an API layer could support a retail CBDC system and how it could facilitate safe and secure CBDC payments through a range of different use cases,” Road said.
“We believe that Rosalind can make a significant contribution to how organisations across the globe are thinking about and engaging with the design of retail CBDC systems,” she added.
Trial coincides with exploration of ‘Britcoin’
The trial coincides with the UK's exploration of a potential digital pound, often referred to as 'Britcoin.'
The BoE is currently seeking public feedback on a consultation paper produced in collaboration with the country's Treasury.
While no official decision has been made regarding the digital pound, there is widespread speculation that the UK could end up issuing a CBDC, with Bank of England Governor Andrew Bailey also making the case for it earlier this year.
"As the world around us and the way we pay for things becomes more digitalised, the case for a digital pound in the future continues to grow. A digital pound would provide a new way to pay, help businesses, maintain trust in money and better protect financial stability,” Bailey said back when the UK government started consultation for the digital pound.