Friday 13 November 2020 2:46 pm

BoE’s Cunliffe: ‘Not our job’ to protect banks from digital currencies

Bank of England deputy governor Jon Cunliffe has said it is not the bank’s job to protect other banks from the impact of future digital currencies.

Speaking an on online seminar today, Cunliffe said: “Our job is not to protect bank business models. Banks will have to adjust. Our job is to ensure that if bank business models change, we manage the financial and macro-economic consequences of that.”

Read more: Four things to watch as the Bank of England sets interest rates

The world’s largest central banks, including the BoE, are considering how their own digital currencies could play a role in simplifying domestic and international payments.

Speaking yesterday, European Central Bank president Christine Lagarde said she had a “hunch” that there will eventually be a central bank digital currency

She has previously told reporters: “Europeans are increasingly turning to digital in the ways they spend, save and invest. We should be prepared to issue a digital euro.”

Central bank digital currencies (CBDCs) would allow holders to make payments via the internet and possibly even offline, competing with existing means of electronic payment such as digital wallets, online banks or cryptocurrencies.

Widespread use of CBDCs could hollow out commercial banks, depriving them of a cheap and stable source of funding like retail deposits, some central banks have warned.

Read more: More important for US to be right than first on digital currency, says Fed’s Powell

Cunliffe said the political world needed to step up their assessment of the implications of any future CBDC.

“They need to go up the political agenda quite fast before the political side discovers there are developments in the private sector that actually don’t fit with policy,” he said.

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