LONDON, April 29 (Reuters) – Central bank digital cash could give new types of businesses access to ultra-cheap central bank funding and lessen the role of big banks in settling large transfers, a senior Bank of France official said on Thursday.
With high stakes involved in the development of e-cash, the Bank of France is part of the European Central Bank’s research into how a future digital euro could be used both in wholesale bank-to-bank lending and in everyday retail banking.
A wholesale central bank digital currency could spark demand from financial firms which don’t currently have access to central bank money, Denis Beau, deputy governor of the Bank of France, told an online seminar organised by the OMFIF think-tank.
“Even if these actors would be … subject to similar regulatory requirements, the role of large banks in the settlement of transfer orders in central bank money would be challenged,” Beau said.
The world’s biggest central banks, including the ECB, are revving up work on issuing digital cash, aiming to use its flexibility to improve payment systems, ease some of the complexities of negative interest rates and ensure they don’t cede too much control to digital currencies.
The scope and scale of the central bank digital currency research varies from country to country.
The People’s Bank of China is in the advanced stages of testing a digital yuan that would be used by both individuals and businesses. The Bahamas has a fully working digital ‘Sand Dollar’ while Switzerland has successfully tested large-scale bank-to-bank digital currency transactions.
Meanwhile, U.S. Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell said on Wednesday that China’s digital yuan plans would not push the Fed to rush its own digital dollar plans. (Reporting by Tom Wilson and Marc Jones; Editing by Kim Coghill)