Swiss National Bank Board Director: Central Banks’ Interest in Issuing Crypto Has Waned

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Thomas Moser, a board director at the Swiss National Bank (SNB), believes that central banks’ interest in developing central bank-issued digital currencies (CBDCs) has now waned, Business Insider reports today, June 23.

Moser told Business Insider at this week’s Zug Crypto Valley Conference that although there was initial interest among central banks in issuing CBDC or a national cryptocurrency, “enthusiasm has slowed again because of the implications it would have for financial stability:”

"The whole technical issue, which excited everyone, really takes second place to this conceptual policy issue. The mood now is: everyone is monitoring it, some are experimenting with it, heavily, but I think everyone is waiting for someone else to do it first so we can."

Yesterday at the conference, Moser had noted that the technology behind digital currencies, blockchain, was still “too primitive” for Switzerland to issue an “e-franc.”

Even though Moser mentioned that central banks were now “skeptical” of CBDCs, he did note that the “implications are quite big” to have a digital version of a country’s currency.

"It's kind of cumbersome to have all your money, all your savings in bank notes. It's much easier if you can just switch it or have an account with the Swiss national bank. Then it becomes very volatile — in good times everyone has their money with the banks to earn interest, in the bad times, everyone has it on their devices. There are the things we need to think about how we would handle.

According to Moser, CBDCs would compete directly with banks, meaning that any issuance would have to be carefully thought through. Moser then added that the Swiss National Bank is officially “basically neutral towards cryptocurrencies:”

"We are not worried, we don't mind."

At the Money20/20 conference at the beginning of June, Moser had also underlined this point, stating that “as long as central banks do a good job, there is no real need for central banks to disappear.”

Switzerland has developed a reputation as a crypto-friendly country, in part due to their lenient Initial Coin Offering (ICO) regulations and tax-leniency, particularly in the Zug “Crypto Valley.” Earlier this week, one of the members of the Swiss collective head of state also spoke favorably about blockchain, noting his belief that it would someday “penetrate our entire economy.”