Central bankers see the potential for improving the speed and efficiency of cross-border payments by issuing their own digital currencies, according to survey results published Wednesday by the London, U.K.-based Official Monetary and Financial Institutions Forum (OMFIF) and tech giant IBM.
The survey of 21 central banks (which ran from July to September) finds that more than two-thirds (69%) of respondents see significant issues with the existing cross-border payments systems, and just over half (54%) believe that central bank digital currencies (CBDCs) could be used to enhance the speed, efficiency and resilience of those systems.
In addition, 38% of respondents are examining the potential of CBDCs, which would be digital forms of traditional fiat money, and all respondents agree that smart contracts could be useful by providing central banks flexibility in payment and settlement processes.
“Many central banks have devoted considerable effort to examining the viability of introducing digital fiat currency as a complement to physical cash. In the wholesale domain, the prospects for digital payment or electronic token exchange appear capable of delivering benefits while avoiding some of the difficulties inherent in retail CBDCs,” says Philip Middleton, deputy chairman at the OMFIF.
Separately, one of the banks that participated in the survey, the Deutsche Bundesbank, announced that it has successfully completed tests of blockchain prototypes for clearing and settling securities transactions, along with the Deutsche Boerse.
“We are very happy with the results of the project. The tests have shown that blockchain technology is a suitable basis for applications in the field of settlement and other financial infrastructures,” says Berthold Kracke, CEO of Clearstream Banking AG and head of Clearstream Global Operations at Deutsche Boerse Group, in a statement.
“During this project, Deutsche Bundesbank and Deutsche Boerse learned a lot about the usage of this technology and its concrete implementation. We expect the rapid development to continue, and also see the potential in using it for high-volume applications. The approach of a permissioned architecture, which takes into account the requirements of the financial sector from the outset, has proven to be right,” adds Burkhard Balz, member of the Bundesbank’s executive board, in a statement.