The Bank of England and the United Kingdom finance ministry are planning to launch a consultation on the possible rollout of a central bank digital currency starting in 2022.
In a Tuesday statement, the Bank of England said the digital pound consultation with HM Treasury would consider design features, benefits and implications for users and business, as well as other relevant issues. The results of the 2022 consultation will determine whether U.K. authorities intend to move forward with a central bank digital currency, or CBDC.
“If the results of this ‘development’ phase conclude that the case for CBDC is made, and that it is operationally and technologically robust, then the earliest date for launch of a U.K. CBDC would be in the second half of the decade,” said the central bank.
The Bank of England added that “no decision has been made” on whether the U.K. would be introducing a CBDC in the future. However, any digital pound project would be aimed at existing alongside cash and bank deposits, rather than replacing them.
In April, the Bank of England and the finance ministry established a task force aimed at exploring the rollout of a CBDC, including issues associated with the design as well as its possible implementation and operation in the United Kingdom. Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak said in July local officials would be consulting on pioneering reforms “to support the safe adoption of crypto assets and stablecoins” and explore the case for a CBDC in the country.
While many countries with the world’s largest economies have yet to launch a CBDC, some have begun pilot programs. China’s digital yuan rollout continues with trials in multiple regions, with the country’s central bank reporting there were more than 140 million individual accounts holding the digital currency as of October.