While most major countries around the world prepare for the rollout of a central bank digital currency, Switzerland has stated that it has no plans to do so. The bank’s chief economist Carlos Lenz outlined the banks thoughts on a CBDC at a Swiss Bankers Association (SBA) press conference.
The SBA published a discussion paper recently titled: New currencies for Switzerland? The challenges of a digital franc and private stablecoins for Swiss banks. The press conference followed on from that paper, with chief economist Carlos Lenz stating that the bank currently has no plans to go forward with a CBDC:
“This is not an implementation at a production level. There are currently no plans to introduce digital central bank money. This also applies to the wholesale area.”
However, the SBA was clear in its paper that Switzerland was not going to remain inactive, and had been exploring the possibilities of experimentation with CBDC’s. The paper outlined that:
“Switzerland is among the countries exploring the possibilities of a wholesale CBDC[…] In June 2021, SNB, Banque de France and BIH announced an experiment in the settlement of cross-border transactions that they are conducting jointly with a private-sector consortium. Working on a wholesale CBCD illustrates SNB’s view that the private sector itself is capable of developing specific solutions for customer payments.”
The Swiss central bank is currently trialing cross-border payments with France, working with a private-sector consortium, and demonstrating the SNB’s view that “the private sector itself is capable of developing specific solutions for customer payments”.
In the conference, Lenz mentioned that he does not see other neighbouring countries introducing CBDC’s as a threat to Switzerland. He compared the situation to that of the introduction of the Euro. “There was also fear that payments would suddenly be made in euros” — but that didn’t happen.