Swiss Central Bank to Conduct Wholesale CBDC Pilot with Actual Currency, Reports Suggest

The Swiss National Bank (SNB) has revealed its intentions to launch a pilot project for a wholesale central bank digital currency (wCBDC), utilizing actual physical currency, according to a recent report. SNB chair Thomas Jordan stated that the project would commence in the near future, as reported by Reuters.

The wCBDC will be issued on the Swiss SIX digital exchange and will run for a limited duration, Jordan announced during the Point Zero Forum held in Zurich on June 26. The SIX Group, which operates Switzerland’s largest stock exchange, will facilitate the pilot. Jordan emphasized the project’s significance, stating:

“This is not merely an experiment; it will involve real money equivalent to bank reserves, and the objective is to test actual transactions with market participants.”

SNB governing board member Thomas Moser previously expressed his belief that CBDCs could be effectively integrated with decentralized finance in an interview with Cointelegraph. The SNB had previously implemented a wCBDC into the back-office systems of five banks as part of Project Helvetia, following the successful completion of a wCBDC proof of concept.

This marks a shift from the stance taken by SNB chief economist Carlos Lenz a year earlier, when he stated that blockchain was not a suitable platform for CBDC and that Switzerland had no intention of issuing one.

Regarding retail CBDC, Jordan mentioned that caution is currently exercised, but did not rule out its potential introduction in the future.

At a separate event during the Point Zero Forum, SNB governing board member Andréa Maechler stated that the central bank does not foresee the replacement of physical cash in Switzerland. Last year, Maechler expressed the view that the risks associated with a retail CBDC outweighed its potential benefits, according to her statements.

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