The Bank for International Settlements (BIS) has today announced that Cecilia Skingsley of Sweden’s central bank has been appointed new head of its Innovation Hub.
She will leave her current role as Sveriges Riksbank’s first deputy governor on 15 August to begin a five-year term with BIS on 14 September. She will also become a member of BIS’s executive committee.
Skingsley will lead the Innovation Hub in its mission to foster international collaboration among central banks on innovative financial technology, leading efforts to build technological solutions to problems in the financial sector in such areas as central bank digital currencies (CBDCs), cyber security and green finance, according to BIS’s announcement of Skingsley’s appointment.
In taking up the high-profile and influential international role the Stockholm native succeeds Benoît Cœuré, who left BIS earlier this year to become president of the Autorité de la concurrence, France’s competition watchdog. Ross Leckow, BIS’s senior adviser fintech (strategy and legal), is filling Cœuré’s shoes on an interim basis.
Skingsley was appointed first deputy governor of the Riksbank in November 2019, having joined the central bank in 2013 from a private-sector role as chief economist at Swedbank. She is a former financial journalist and head of the financial market section of Swedish business paper Dagens Industri and has also worked as press secretary for Carl Bildt, the country’s former prime minister.
‘Highly respected leader on innovation’
Skingsley is described by BIS as a ‘highly respected leader on innovation within the international community’ who has ‘played a pivotal role in advancing key international initiatives directed towards the development of CBDCs’.
Sweden, a nation with a high rate of digital payments usage among citizens, is relatively well progressed in its experimentation with an e-krona, a digital version of state money, with the Riksbank regularly contributing to international discussions on CBDC.
Skingsley will join the Innovation Hub – which was set up in 2019 – as its global footprint grows to reach across eight locations around the world. She played an important role in the establishment of the Innovation Hub’s ‘Nordic’ centre, which is hosted by the Riksbank in partnership with the Danmarks Nationalbank, Central Bank of Iceland and Norges Bank.
The Nordic centre opened one year ago with Skingsley saying at the time that the Swedish Parliament had agreed a five-year commitment of 30 million krona (about £2.5m) per year to host the Innovation Hub, with three Riksbank staff to be assigned to its activities. The other Nordic central banks were due to each assign one staff member.
Innovation Hub centres are already operating in BIS’s ‘home’ nation Switzerland, as well as in Hong Kong, Singapore and London. Two further centres – a co-hosted centre in Frankfurt/Paris (for the Eurosystem) and the Canadian city of Toronto – are expected to open later this year. The Innovation Hub also has a ‘strategic partnership’ with the US Federal Reserve System.
Network of more than 200 innovation experts
As well as acting as a platform for central bank collaboration in building technological solutions to problems in the financial sector, the Innovation Hub develops technology projects focused on priority themes that also include next-generation financial market infrastructures, supervisory and regulatory technology (SupTech/RegTech) and open finance.
The Innovation Hub also monitors critical trends in technology affecting central banking, and serves as a focal point for a network of more than 200 central bank innovation experts.
“I am pleased and honoured to have been entrusted with leading the BIS Innovation Hub,” Skingsley said in a press release issued by the Riksbank. “In partnership with central banks, BIS is establishing a presence in eight locations around the world, in order to deepen the analysis of technical financial innovations and develop technical services relevant to central banks. I look forward to working with my colleagues around the world to continue to drive and develop this work.”
“Cecilia Skingsley has been a valuable asset and has made a very substantial contribution to the work of the Riksbank,” said the Riksbank general council’s chairman, Susanne Eberstein, in the Riksbank’s press release. “This is particularly true as regards the Riksbank’s development of a complement to cash, a digital e-krona, in which Cecilia Skingsley has been one of the pioneers in the world of central banks.”
The Riksbank a couple of weeks ago launched an instant payment settlement system, called RIX-INST, that operates round the clock. In launching RIX-INST – an extension of the country’s existing payments system Rix – it is ‘offering the banks a secure and cost-effective payment system for instant payments that creates opportunities for Swedish companies to develop new innovative payment services’, the Riksbank said.
‘BIS Innovation Hub London head outlines centre’s first two projects’ – our news story (29 March 2022) on Francesca Hopwood Road presenting details of the Bank of England-hosted London centre’s first two projects
‘BIS Innovation Hub reveals 2022 workplan’ – our news story (25 January 2022) on the presentation of this year’s Innovation Hub programme, with CBDCs and payments systems the most frequently occurring topics
‘Auer appointed first head of BIS Innovation Hub Eurosystem centre’ – our news story (6 January 2022) on Raphael Auer, currently principal economist for innovation and digital economy in BIS’s monetary and economic department, being named inaugural head of the soon-to-open Eurosystem centre
‘BIS Innovation Hub Eurosystem centre focus to include cybersecurity and green finance’ – our news story (10 December 2021) on the ‘BIS Innovation Hub Eurosystem Centre: Setting the Stage’ event
‘BIS Innovation Hub centres open in Sweden and UK’ – our news story (16 June 2021) on the opening of the Nordic centre and Bank of England-hosted centre