Within 10 years, cash may go digital completely, or is it? Major UK institutions are addressing cashless perspectives right now.
This January the Bank of England, the European Central Bank, the Bank of Canada, the Bank of Japan, the Sveriges Riksbank and the Swiss National Bank, together with the Bank for International Settlements (BIS), have created a task group. The group aims to share the experience as they assess the potential cases for central bank digital currency (CBDC) in their home jurisdictions.
The group will assess CBDC use cases; economic, functional and technical design choices, including cross-border interoperability. Members of the group will share the knowledge on emerging technologies. It will closely coordinate with the relevant institutions and forums. Special consultations will involve the Financial Stability Board and the Committee on Payments and Market Infrastructures (CPMI).
Among other members of the group, Riksbank has more experience in developing a digital replacement for traditional cash, with its e-krona project. E-krona may ensure a safe and efficient payment system in the future when cash faded out as a means of payment by the majority of businesses and households in Sweden. This project is in the second year of development. The Riksbank already implemented a public procurement of a technology supplier to the e-krona pilot project. The institution intends to sign an agreement with the international consulting company Accenture. The experience exchange of Rixbank with other members may bring cashless society closer to reality.
Simultaneously, a broad public discussion is gaining momentum in Britain on perspectives of the cashless society. Government is already under pressure to make access to cash a legal right. The lobbying group, which is led by the former Financial Ombudsman Service chairman, wants parliament to force banks to provide suitable access to cash for customers by new regulations.