Around 15 retail central bank digital currencies (CBDCs) could be in circulation across the world by the end of this decade, according to a survey carried out by the Bank for International Settlements (BIS).
BIS, a Switzerland-based body owned by 63 central banks representing around 95% of the world economy, said nine central banks had also indicated they’re “very likely” to issue a CBDC for wholesale use in financial markets within the next six years.
Of the 86 central banks surveyed by BIS, 93% are now undertaking CBDC work, the study said, with major jurisdictions such as India, the U.K. and European Union all seriously exploring issuing a digital version of their fiat currencies.
“Global work on CBDCs has made further progress” since last year, the report said, with the work particularly intense in emerging economies where it’s seen as a way of helping unbanked people. “If issued, retail CBDCs can be expected to complement and coexist with other domestic payment methods.”
“The survey results show that, to date, stablecoins and other crypto assets are seldom used for payments outside the crypto ecosystem,” with cross-border remittances and consumer purchases the most popular uses, the report added.
The previous BIS survey published in May 2022 found the burgeoning private crypto market had spurred central banks to look at their options – and in some cases, enthusiasm may have cooled following the 2022 crypto crash. The number of central banks saying they’re unlikely to issue a CBDC any time soon has risen over the year, with fewer now sitting on the fence, the study found.
Earlier this year, the Bank of England said a digital pound is likely to be needed in future, while the European Commission in June produced a bill designed to underpin a digital euro. The U.S. Treasury has said it’s examining how it would keep digital transactions as private as possible.
Monetary authorities in the Bahamas, Eastern Caribbean, Jamaica and Nigeria have actually implemented a retail CBDC, while pilots of a digital yuan in China have raised fears about its potential of the technology for state snooping.
Read more: Central Banks Successfully Test Over 30 CBDC Use Cases, Including Offline Payments
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