Benoît Cœuré from the BIZ Innovation Hub wants to create diversity among means of payment and not put them into competition with one another.
As more and more countries deal with issuing their own central bank digital currency (CBDC), Benoît Cœuré of the Bank for International Settlements emphasizes that cash will maintain its importance.
The head of the BIS technology center was previously a board member of the European Central Bank (ECB)
„In contrast to Sweden and China, there is still a great demand for banknotes in the euro zone,“ as Cœuré initially stated in an interview on Thursday. “Their role as a means of payment is declining, but they are still in demand as a means of saving,” he explains afterwards. And further:
“Nobody wants to force consumers to choose which payment method to use. Diversity is a good thing and it promotes innovation. The aim is to create free choice, which means that consumers can continue to pay with the currency of their central bank. “
In the further discussion, Cœuré addressed a number of topics relating to the global development of CBDCs. He spoke about innovation as a natural growth process and named the different positions of different countries with regard to central bank digital currencies and the upcoming Facebook cryptocurrency Libra.
China is currently clearly in the lead in the race to issue its own CBDC , while the US is still on hold
Central bank digital currencies have the potential to make cash redundant. Depending on the reading, this can be assessed positively or negatively. The requirements in the respective country play a decisive role in this assessment. The payment system in the USA is already largely digitized, which is why there is no compelling need for a central bank digital currency.
Most CBDCs will very likely be based on blockchain technology . The introduction of such digital currencies by central banks would be the same as today’s cash, only that it is in digital form. Cœuré agrees: “Central bank digital currencies are the digital equivalent of coins and banknotes. They are the safest currency there is because they are issued by a government agency. “
To this end, he adds:
“In the future you will be able to pay for your coffee in different ways: of course with banknotes and coins, which will be available as long as they are needed, but also by card, central bank digital currency or payment systems like Apple Pay and PayPal. If there is the appropriate legal framework, then maybe with Facebook Libra. „
Cœuré himself mentioned Bitcoin ( BTC ) as a possible means of payment: „If you want to pay with Bitcoin, why not, provided the payer and the payee understand the risks of an actively traded cryptocurrency.“
Nonetheless, physical cash has important properties that digital currencies can never meet. For example, they are always available even in crisis situations.