Bank of England Official: It's 'Probable' UK Will Launch a Digital Currency

Sir Jon Cunliffe expressed the concern that consumers may find stablecoins more attractive than bank offerings.

AccessTimeIconMay 14, 2021 at 10:00 a.m. UTC
Updated Sep 14, 2021 at 12:55 p.m. UTC
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A Bank of England official has spoken of the institution's plans to launch a U.K. central bank digital currency (CBDC), now often dubbed “Britcoin.”

In a speech Thursday, Sir Jon Cunliffe, deputy governor for financial stability, said it looks “probable” that the state would need to issue some form of digital cash to retain citizens’ confidence in the availability of public money.

“The knowledge that under stress depositors have the option to switch into state money may be important in preventing a more general loss of confidence in money,” Cunliffe said.

Such loss of confidence could see more consumers “locked into private money”, he said, citing stablecoins launched by Big Tech platforms as an example. These are likely “to have greater functionality and lower transaction costs than the current commercial bank digital money offering and could quickly attract a large number of users.”

Thus far the central bank has only published a discussion paper and announced a taskforce to explore a CBDC, so the comments are perhaps notable as a sign of intent.

In other news, Andrew Bailey, governor of the Bank of England, has warned again about investing in crypto assets, soon after bitcoin’s price took a sharp dip under $50,000.

Speaking at a Bank of England citizens’ panel event Thursday, Bailey spoke of the “warning sign” of people looking for investment opportunities in crypto.

“You’ve probably seen all the stories about the price of bitcoin, share prices in the U.S. suddenly rocketing up for companies that nobody quite knows what they do,” he said.

“Buy it if you want, but it has no intrinsic value,” Bailey concluded, echoing his comments of a week ago when he told a press conference that crypto investors should be prepared to lose all their money.

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