According to Andrea Maechler, a member of the board of directors of the Swiss National Bank, the financial institution would see no benefit in issuing a national digital currency. "We believe the risks outweigh the benefits," Maechler said at a financial conference in Frankfurt, saying a retail CBDC meant central banks were taking on the risks brought by the private sector and increasing the risk of bank runs.
Financial inclusion was also not a sufficient argument for CBDCs in Switzerland, Maechler said, with nearly 100 percent of the country’s working population having access to bank accounts, while cash was still widely used. "This does not mean that the SNB is not interested in CBDC, but our goal is to examine the role that wholesale CBDCs could play," explained Maechler, referring to their use in transactions between financial institutions such as banks.
The Swiss central bank revealed last week that it has successfully used the digital currency to settle transactions involving five commercial banks. This was the latest test of the technology in wholesale markets. The process, called Project Helvetia, is expected to bring the introduction of central bank digital currencies one step closer to Switzerland, which has conducted some of the most advanced central bank digital currency experiments (CBDCs) in Europe.
Central banks around the world have stepped up work on CBDCs to make existing payment systems more efficient and counter the cryptocurrency challenge, with research focusing on both wholesale and retail versions.