The Bank for International Settlements (BIS) says it has made another breakthrough in its central bank digital currency (CBDC) interoperability project – claiming that it has “successfully tested” the integration of wholesale CBDC settlement with commercial banks.
The BIS has been working on what it calls Project Helvetia, part of a network of projects aimed at helping central banks roll out CBDC offerings – and allowing them to operate in a global financial network. The bank is also looking to help bolster cross-border payment progress, which has found itself lagging behind blockchain and crypto-related innovation.
In a press release, the BIS said that it and the central Swiss National Bank (SNB) and SIX, a Swiss financial infrastructure service provider, had integrated a pilot wholesale CBDC into the “existing back-office systems and processes” of its five commercial bank partners, namely Citi, Credit Suisse, Goldman Sachs, Hypothekarbank Lenzburg, and UBS.
Benoît Cœuré, the head of the BIS’ Innovation Hub, was quoted as stating:
“We have demonstrated that innovation can be harnessed to preserve the best elements of the current financial system, including settlement in central bank money, while also potentially unlocking new benefits. As digital ledger technology [DLT] goes mainstream, this will become more relevant than ever.”
According to the BIS, the project was an “investigation on the settlement of tokenized assets” in central bank money, and made use of DLT technology to “focus” on a range of “operational, legal and policy questions.”
However, just like most central banks who are furtively working on CBDC pilots, the SNB was keen to add a disclaimer, remarking:
“Project Helvetia is purely experimental and does not indicate that the SNB intends to issue a wholesale CBDC.”
However, the bank remarked that “[The project] allowed the SNB to deepen its understanding of how the safety of central bank money could be extended to tokenized asset markets.”
Meanwhile, in the United States, Minnesota Congressman Tom Emmer, an outspoken advocate of crypto, has launched a bid to block the Federal Reserve from issuing a CBDC – in the form of a draft bill submitted to the house.
Emmer justified his stance, writing that “in order to maintain the dollar’s status as the world’s reserve currency in a digital age, it is important that the United States lead with a posture that prioritizes innovation and does not aim to compete with the private sector.”
Emmer has previously hit out at what he called the “over-regulation” of the crypto sector in the USA, and stated that stablecoin progress in the private sector should be promoted over CBDC-related innovation.
“We must prioritize blockchain technology with American characteristics, rather than mimic China’s digital authoritarianism out of fear.”
Emmer blasted China’s fast-moving digital yuan project and those looking to follow in its footsteps, noting that such CBDCs “fundamentally omit the benefits and protections of cash,“ and adding that, as such, “it is more important than ever to ensure the United States’ digital currency policy protects financial privacy, maintains the dollar’s dominance and cultivates innovation.”