The Swiss National Bank (SNB) has completed a successful test of a wholesale central bank digital currency (CBDC) settlement system with commercial banks.
SNB joins the list of countries piloting CBDCs
The successful trial was a crucial component of the second phase of Project Helvetia, which aims to integrate tokenized financial assets with mainstream markets, according to a statement released by the Bank for International Settlements (BIS) on Thursday.
To conduct the test, the BIS teamed up with five commercial banks: Goldman Sachs, Credit Suisse, Citi, UBS, and Hypothekarbank Lenzburg, as well as the Swiss stock exchange platform SIX. The SNB announced intentions to expand its digital currency testing to include commercial lenders in December 2020.
The trial test, which took occur in Q4 2021, included CBDC issuance, redemption, and usage for securities settlements both inside and outside of Switzerland. “A wholesale central bank digital currency (wCBDC) may be connected with current commercial and central bank core banking systems and procedures,” according to the BIS paper.
Despite the trial’s success, the SNB has insisted that Project Helvetia is simply an experiment and that the work done is not indicative of the central bank‘s ambitions to issue a wholesale CBDC.
Several central banks are presently researching or testing retail and wholesale CBDCs, with global financial institutions such as the BIS advocating for state-backed digital currencies over cryptocurrencies and privately produced stablecoins.