Switzerland’s central bank has announced the successful completion of a central bank digital currency (CBDC) trial. While the trial demonstrated the feasibility of a wholesale CBDC, the bank claimed that distributed ledger technology has not yet proven its ability to handle the European country’s payments system.
The Swiss National Bank (SNB) partnered with the Bank for International Settlements’ Innovation Hub and the country’s principal stock exchange SIX on the trial. Known as Project Helvetia, it explored the technological and legal feasibility of integrating central bank money into a DLT-based financial markets infrastructure.
Project Helvetia consisted of two proofs of concept, BIS revealed. In the first, the SNB issued a wholesale CBDC directly onto the DLT infrastructure of the Swiss Digital Exchange (SDX). SDX is a blockchain-based stock exchange that SIX has been building, with the launch expected before the end of the year.
The first PoC investigated four use cases. They were the issuance of a wholesale CBDC, redemption of the CBDC, delivery and settlement of tokenized assets against wholesale CBDCs and transfer of the CBDC.
In the second proof of concept, the three participants investigated the interoperability between the DLT infrastructure of SDX and the Swiss RTGS system (SIC). One use case was investigated in PoC 2—delivery and settlement of tokenized assets against SIC balances.
On the conclusion from the two PoCs, the BIS stated, “A wholesale CBDC has potential advantages when settling digital assets. Yet it would raise major policy and governance hurdles.”