The UK’s HM Treasury (HMT) and Bank of England have announced the line-ups for two discussion groups – comprising 58 people in total – to inform their explorations of a central bank digital currency (CBDC).
Establishment of the ‘CBDC Engagement Forum’ and ‘CBDC Technology Forum’ comes as the UK authorities step up their explorations around the possibility of launching a digital pound – dubbed ‘Britcoin’ in a tweet by UK chancellor Rishi Sunak in April.
The Engagement Forum consists of 32 senior figures from the private sector, as well as civil society and academia, to discuss policy considerations and functional requirements relating to CBDC. The group will have ‘an important role in helping the Bank and HM Treasury understand the practical challenges of designing, implementing and operating a CBDC’, according to a press notice.
The Technology Forum, meanwhile, is slightly smaller, comprising 26 members. This group will consider issues including ledger design, point-of-sale hardware choices, ‘the user journey’, data security, API (application programming interface) standards and the implementation of specific functionality such as offline payments.
The Engagement Forum will have its first meeting ‘later in the year’. The Technology Forum has met once already. Some organisations, for example retail payments authority Pay.UK and the Open Banking Implementation Entity (OBIE), have representation in both groups. Agendas and meetings’ minutes will be published, according to the press notice.
Interested to see who’s involved? Global Government Fintech lists all members of both the Engagement Forum and the Technology Forum at the end of this article
Time to ‘roll up sleeves’
The two groups’ creation comes at a time when central bankers worldwide have been urged to ‘roll up their sleeves’ and ‘accelerate work on the nitty-gritty’ of CBDC design.
Addressing the Eurofi Financial Forum in Slovenia earlier this month, Bank for International Settlements (BIS) Innovation Hub head Benoît Coeuré described how central banks worldwide were “stepping up efforts to prepare the ground for digital cash”.
Among major nations China is at an advanced stage of developing its CBDC, known as the e-CNY or digital yuan, while the Frankfurt-headquartered European Central Bank (ECB) is set to launch an ‘investigation phase’ into a potential digital euro (D€) next month.
The Bahamas became the first country to launch a fully deployed a digital version of a fiat currency – the ‘Sand Dollar’ – almost a year ago. In April this year, Eastern Caribbean nations rolled out blockchain-based digital currency ‘DCash’ within their currency union.
Globally an increasing number of central banks worldwide have started actually experimenting with retail CBDCs (also known as ‘general purpose’ CBDCs – CBDCs that would be available to the general population) – albeit most of those doing so have yet to commit to actually launching a CBDC.
In June the BoE set out five ‘core principles’ that will form the backbone of its explorations into a potential digital pound.
CBDC taskforce and CBDC unit
Plans to establish the UK discussion groups was announced in April, alongside the creation of a BoE-HMT CBDC taskforce.
The taskforce is being co-chaired by the BoE’s deputy governor for financial stability Sir Jon Cunliffe and HMT’s second permanent secretary, Charles Roxburgh. The latter has recently replaced HMT’s director-general of financial services, Katharine Braddick, in the co-chair role. She is leaving the civil service to join the bank Barclays.
Membership of the taskforce is limited to individuals from the BoE and HMT although other UK authorities will be involved in the taskforce’s work ‘as appropriate’.
The BoE also has its own CBDC unit, overseen by Cunliffe, to lead both the central bank’s internal CBDC work and also its external engagement, including with other UK and international authorities.
The BoE has been sharing perspectives on CBDC matters with central banks of Canada, Japan, Sweden and Switzerland, as well as the ECB and BIS. Cunliffe, who is chair of the BIS Committee on Payments and Market Infrastructures and is the BoE’s figurehead on the topic of CBDCs internationally, addressed the BIS Innovation Summit in March on the topic of CBDCs, albeit focused on cross-border payments and wholesale CBDCs – a wholesale CBDC is for financial institutions, as opposed to public use.
BIS itself set out its recommended approach to fundamental elements of CBDC design in June, explaining that retail CBDCs come in two ‘variants’: a cash-like design, allowing for so-called token-based access and anonymity in payments; or an account-based design built on verifying users’ identity ‘rooted’ in a digital ID scheme. BIS states a preference for account-based systems built on digital ID.
CBDC ENGAGEMENT FORUM
- Anne Boden, CEO, Starling Bank
- Georges Elhedery, Co-CEO Global Banking & Markets, HSBC
- Arun Kohli, COO EMEA, Morgan Stanley
- Tracey McDermott, Gp Head of Conduct & Fin. Crime, Standard Chartered Bank
- Chris Rhodes, CFO, Nationwide Building Society
- Paul Thwaite, CEO Commercial Banking, NatWest Group
- Stephen Gilderdale, Chief Product Officer, SWIFT
- Imran Gulamhuseinwala, Trustee, Open Banking Implementation Entity (OBIE)
- Charlotte Hogg, CEO, Visa Europe
- Matthew Hunt, Interim CEO, PayUK
- Jorn Lambert, Chief Digital Officer, Mastercard
- Paul Bances, Head of Global Mkt Devel (Blockchain, Crypto & Digi Curr.), PayPal
- Simon Coles, CTO, PayPoint
- Diana Layfield, President of EMEA Partnerships, Google
- Andrew Cregan, Head of Finance Policy, British Retail Consortium
- Martin McTague, National Policy Chair, Federation of Small Businesses (FSB)
- Andrew Murphy, Executive Director for Operations, John Lewis Partnership
- Chris Wilford, Head of Financial Services Policy, Confederation of British Industry
- Natasha de Terán, Member of the Financial Services Consumer Panel
- Simon Gaysford, Founder & Director, Frontier Economics
- Reema Patel, Associate Director, Ada Lovelace Institute
- Polly Tolley, Director of Impact, Citizens Advice Scotland
- Judith Tyson, Research Fellow, Overseas Development Institute
- Christian Catalini, Chief Economist, Diem Association
- Jess Houlgrave, Chief of Staff, Checkout.com
- Arunan Tharmarajah, Head of European Banking, Wise
- Adam Jackson, Director, Innovate Finance
- Jana Mackintosh, Managing Director Payments & Innovation, UK Finance
- Ruth Wandhöfer, Chair, Payment Systems Regulator (PSR) Panel
- Bryan Zhang, Exec. Director, Cambridge Centre for Alt. Fin. (Judge Business School)
- Rodney Garratt, Professor of Economics, University of California Santa Barbara (USA)
- Simon Gleeson, Financial Regulatory Group Lead, Clifford Chance
CBDC TECHNOLOGY FORUM
- Dominic Black, Money Collective Tech Lead, Monzo
- Lee Braine, MD Research & Engineering, Barclays
- Alan Ainsworth, Head of Policy, Open Banking Implementation Entity (OBIE)
- Max Malcolm, Head of Solution Architecture, Visa
- Sean Mullaney, Head of Product & Engineering for EMEA Payments, Stripe
- Patrick O’Donnell, VP Blockchain & Digital Assets, Mastercard
- James Whittle, Director of Standards and Architecture, PayUK
- Edwin Aoki, CTO, Blockchain, Cryptocurrency and Digital Currencies, PayPal
- Will Drewry, Principal Software Engineer, Google
- David MacKeith, Principal Technology Adviser, Amazon Web Services
- Lauren Del Giudice, Senior Architect, IDEMIA
- Vikram Kimyani, Cloud Architect, Oracle
- Paul Lucas, Distinguished Engineer, IBM
- Michael Adams, CEO, Quali-Sign
- Richard Brown, CTO, R3
- Josh Daniel, Director Payments, SETL
- Bejoy Das Gupta, Chief Economist, eCurrency
- Andrew Flatt, CTO, Archax
- Inga Mullins, CEO, Fluency
- Matthieu Saint Olive, CBDC & Payments Manager, Consensys
- Keith Bear, Fellow, Cambridge Centre for Alternative Finance
- Geoff Goodell, Senior Research Associate, University College London
- Sarah Meiklejohn, Assoc. Director, Initiative for Cryptocurrencies and Contracts (IC3)
- Simon Brayshaw, Head of Technology, ASOS
- Ashley Lannquist, Project Lead, Blockchain & Digital Currency, World Economic Forum
- Mark Shaw, Director of Global Payments Strategy, Spotify
=>>> Global Government Fintech’s dedicated ‘Digital Currencies’ section <==
INTERESTED IN THE TECHNOLOGY BEHIND CBDCs? WATCH THIS =>
Global Government Fintech organised an international webinar, in partnership with Amazon Web Services Institute (AWSI), entitled ‘Delivering Central Bank Digital Currencies (CBDCs): Exploring the Technology Challenge’ on 22 April.