The Bank of International Settlements (BIS), along with financial market infrastructure operator, SIX and the Swiss National Bank, announced today that the organisations have successfully completed a joint proof-of-concept experiment to integrate tokenised digital assets and central bank money.
Dubbed ‘Project Helvetia’, the experiment explored the legal and technical feasibility of transferring digital assets by comparing the issuance of a wholesale CBDC onto a distributed digital currency platform with digital asset platform linkage to the existing wholesale payment system.
In an official press release, BIS outlined the benefits of a wholesale CBDC and pointed out its advantages when settling digital assets. The bank added that the wholesale CBDC explored in the recent project, Helvetia is currently restricted to banks and other financial firms.
The participants expressed willingness to work on future projects related to the role of digital assets in the financial system. Despite the optimism regarding project Helvetia, BIS mentioned that further efforts are required to better understand the practical complexities related to wholesale CBDC.
Commenting on the recent successful completion, Benoît Cœuré, Head of the Bank of International Settlements’ Innovation Hub (BISIH), said: “If wholesale CBDCs are to fulfil their potential as a new means of settlement, their design and implications deserve close study and consideration. This is only possible via continued deliberations and experimentations among central banks and with other stakeholders, such as market supervisors and the private sector. Given the speed of digital transformation, central banks, and others need to learn fast to make informed policy decisions.”
In recent months, central banks around the world have made substantial progress related to CBDCs. Christine Lagarde recently mentioned that the digital euro is expected to go live in the next 2 to 4 years. Switzerland has positioned itself as an attractive location for global crypto firms. Major companies like the Facebook-backed Diem association headquartered in the region. Swiss National Bank showed great support for innovative technologies in the past including the use of digital assets.
“Irrespective of which technologies the financial markets adopt next, the safety and reliability of Swiss financial infrastructure must be preserved. If DLT can deliver significant improvements in securities trading and settlement, then the SNB will be prepared,” Andréa M Maechler, Member of the Governing Board of the SNB said in a statement.