The Swiss National Bank (SNB) has embarked on a landmark project, Helvetia Phase III. This endeavor marks the country’s first issuance of a wholesale Central Bank Digital Currency (CBDC) denominated in Swiss francs. Significantly, the pilot leverages the advanced Distributed Ledger Technology (DLT) platform provided by the regulated SIX Digital Exchange (SDX).
This collaborative venture draws together six major commercial banks, including household names such as UBS and Commerzbank. Hence, they will operate as the pivotal links connecting issuers and investors for seamless bond transactions. Moreover, these transactions will be settled efficiently using a delivery-versus-payment model, employing the newly minted wholesale CBDC.
The initiative, spanning from December 2023 through June 2024, is not just about testing waters as it aims to revolutionize them. Consequently, the SNB, with its partners, is stepping out of the sandbox to authenticate transactions involving tokenized assets in a regulated, real-world environment.
Additionally, the pilot will delve into the realms of repo transaction trading and settlement, all through the lens of wholesale CBDC. The framework for this project rests on the solid infrastructure of the Swiss Interbank Clearing (SIC) and SIX SIS, ensuring the tokenization of central bank money meshes with traditional bond settlement mechanisms.
The push into digital currency by the SNB signals a transformative phase for financial transactions, stressing the efficiency and security that CBDCs bring to the table. Moreover, with central bank money’s inherent stability and zero counterparty risk, it retains its cornerstone role in financial systems.
Thomas Jordan, chair of the SNB’s Governing Board, articulates this move as a decisive step towards harnessing secure and proficient settlement of tokenized assets on a DLT platform using real wholesale CBDC. However, it’s crucial to note that the SNB’s present exploration into CBDC does not imply an inevitable public launch.
This pilot is a bold stride into the digital future, setting a precedent for central banks globally, ensuring that Switzerland remains at the forefront of financial innovation and stability.
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