A study released by Canada’s central bank, Banque du Canada, has noted a number of favorable reasons that the country could benefit from its own Central Bank Digital Currency, or CBDC.
The document laid out two scenarios that might result in the bank issuing a CBDC at some future date. One would be if citizens were no longer widely using cash within the country for reasons that were left unspecified. The other could be if a digital currency, public or private, were to become so widely adopted as to threaten the sovereignty of Canada’s existing central currency.
Participants did not see either scenario as a likely outcome in the near future, but noted that an interest in stablecoin regulation and adoption had increased within the country in recent months. Even so, the study found that cryptocurrencies and stablecoins used as a means of payment in Canada are currently a “novelty for a small number of enthusiasts.”
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The document acknowledged a number of potential benefits inherent to the adoption of a CBDC. Namely that the technology could have the same level of safety as cash while allowing for use in payment systems for online transactions and peer-to-peer transfers. When compared to payment options like credit or debit cards, a CBDC would also not necessarily have the same type of transaction fees for retailers:
“A CBDC could be a simpler competition policy tool because it would provide an alternative low-cost payment instrument for customers and merchants. This would help bring down the interchange fees charged by the established networks.”
That a CBDC could potentially support smart contracts was also a point of interest, as they could increase the speed and accuracy of execution by automating actions that are typically done manually. Participants felt that smart contracts would create some risk for users however, given that smart contract developers would likely be independent from the bank’s CBDC platform. This could be problematic if the execution of the contract did not follow the terms agreed upon, whether purposely or otherwise. They advised that smart contracts, as well as the programmability of a Canadian CBDC, would need to be studied further before implementation is decided.
There could be many benefits to creating a CBDC for Canada. The study explained:
“In general, we argue that a CBDC might be beneficial and probably necessary to ensure a competitive and vibrant digital economy.”
Canada is not the only country looking into possibly implementing a CBDC. Last week while speaking to the House of Representatives, Chairman of the Federal Reserve Jerome Powell said there would be no need for stablecoins or cryptocurrency if there was a digital U.S. dollar. A paper focusing on the benefits and risks of a digital dollar is expected to be released sometime in September.