Distributed ledger tech could "reshape" banking, Bank of England chief Mark Carney said today.
The G-20 international organization is hosting a conference on finance and digitalization this week, with blockchain and distributed ledgers forming one of the event's central themes. The event is being hosted in Germany, in the city of Wiesbaden.
Carney, who also acts as chair of the Financial Stability Board – the group of central banks and finance ministers that is conducting its own blockchain research – touched on both the UK central bank's work with the tech as well as some of the broader implications for the banking sector.
The Bank of England has played a leading role amongst institutions of its kind in testing concepts for a central bank-issued digital currency. Other central banks, including those from Canada, Japan, Russia and the European Union, among others, have explored similar initiatives.
According to Carney, such a launch would carry benefits – and costs.
He told conference attendees:
"On some levels this is appealing; people would have direct access to the ultimate risk-free asset. In the extreme, however, it could fundamentally reshape banking including by sharply increasing liquidity risk for traditional banks."
One use case Carney highlighted in his speech – settlement – has been the subject of attention at the Bank of England. Just under a year ago, Minouche Shafik, the central bank's deputy governor for markets and banking, suggested that the tech was on the table as the Bank of England considers upgrades to its settlement systems.
According to Carney, central banks could see some advantages in relying on the tech for this purpose.
"Emerging technologies, such as distributed ledger, could in future offer significant gains in the accuracy, efficiency and security of processes across payments, clearing and settlement as well as better regulatory compliance," he told attendees. "In the process, tens of billions of dollars of capital may be saved and resilience could be significantly improved."
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