CBDCs: Swiss National Bank, Banque de France, BIS Innovation Hub, Accenture Launch New Digital Currency Pilot

The Swiss National Bank, the Banque de France and the BIS Innovation Hub and a private sector consortium being led by Accenture will be carrying out a pilot program by using wholesale central bank digital currencies (CBDCs) for settling cross-border transfers.

The private sector consortium reportedly includes Credit Suisse, Natixis, R3, SIX Digital Exchange and UBS. This announcement has come as the BIS, Swiss National Bank and SIX successfully completed the testing for a wholesale CBDC (initiative is referred to as Project Helvetia).

Andréa M. Maechler, Member of the Governing Board, Swiss National Bank, stated:

“It is essential for central banks to stay on top of technological developments. The Swiss National Bank is already investigating the settlement of tokenised assets with wholesale CBDC as part of Project Helvetia. We are looking forward to expanding this analysis to a cross-border context by participating in this exciting initiative.”

The pilot, named Project Jura, will be looking into cross-border settlement with two wholesale CBDCs and a French digital financial instrument implemented on a distributed ledger technology (DLT)-enabled platform. This will reportedly involve the exchange of the financial instrument against a Euro wholesale CBDC via a delivery versus payment (DvP) settlement mechanism. It will also include the exchange of a Euro wholesale CBDC against a Swiss franc wholesale CBDC via a payment versus payment (PvP) settlement mechanism.

These transactions are to be cleared between banking institutions headquartered in France and in Switzerland.

Sylvie Goulard, Deputy Governor of the Banque de France, remarked:

“The Banque de France is convinced of the potential benefits of wholesale central bank digital currency to provide maximum security and efficiency in financial transactions, and opened last year an experimental programme to make progress in this area. In this perspective, we are delighted to be able to conduct an important experiment – called Jura – on cross-border settlement in partnership with the Swiss National Bank and the BIS Innovation Hub.”

Project Jura will look to further expand on central bank research that looks into the feasibility and overall effectiveness of using wholesale CBDC for international transactions.

The statement from the parties confirmed that the initiative is currently in its experimental stages and must not be viewed as any indication that the Swiss National Bank or the Banque de France intend to launch wholesale CBDCs.

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