Swiss National Bank Launches Wholesale CBDC in Partnership With Six Commercial Banks
The Swiss National Bank (SNB) is ramping up its efforts on the issuance of a wholesale central bank digital currency (wCBDC).
According to a press release, the Swiss central bank is collaborating with six commercial banks and the SIX Digital Exchange (SDX) to fast-track the implementation of the CBDC in the European nation.
Dubbed the Swiss Franc wCBDC, this digital currency is part of the Swiss government’s growing efforts to launch a tokenized central bank money for use by all financial institutions within its territory.
The participating commercial banks include Banque Cantonale Vaudoise, Basler Kantonalbank, Commerzbank, Hypothekarbank, Lenzburg, UBS, and Zürcher Kantonalbank.
These commercial banks will utilize the infrastructure of the SDX and Swiss Interbank Clearing (SIC) platforms.
The wholesale CBDC is part of its Helvetia Phase III, which is the Swiss’ third pilot program.
Providing more details on what this third installment will aim to achieve, the central bank stated that “it aims to test, in a live environment, the settlement of primary and secondary market transactions using the wholesale CBDC.”
In addition, participating banks will be able to issue digital Swiss Franc bonds, enabling them to settle digital transactions on a delivery-versus-payment basis.
Helvetia Phase III will be deployed in the settlement of repository (repo) transactions, which are deployed on the CO:RE trading platform of the SDX’s SIX Repo.
Providing a timeframe for the full deployment of its third tranche of the CBDC pilot program, the bank stated that it would run between December 2023 and June 2024.
Europe Kickstarts Preparation Phase for Digital Euro
Switzerland is one of the many governments worldwide delving into the potential of tokenized fiat currencies operating on a distributed ledger technology (DLT) platform.
Making it official, European Central Bank (ECB) head Christine Lagarde stated in a tweet on X (formerly Twitter) that the digital Euro is a step towards the future.
Given this, the digital Euro will be used as a payment option alongside cash in the European Union.
Lagarde also stated that the groundwork will commence by November 2023 in order to execute the project on the stipulated roadmap.
While there is growing confidence that a digital Euro will become the norm in the near future, Lagarde pointed out that the ECB Governing Council still needs to vote on whether the tokenized CBDC should be issued.
On the other end of the Pacific, there is a clear picture that the US government is not keen on tokenizing the greenback.
The Vice Chair for Supervision of the Federal Reserve (Fed), Michael Barr, affirmed this in a recent press statement, stating that the issuance of a CBDC is not currently under consideration.
According to him, the decision of whether a CBDC should be issued ultimately lies within the purview of the US Congress.
Barr, however, stated that the Federal Reserve is not entirely pushing out the idea as it is still in consultation with blockchain technology experts on the subject.