ZURICH- The Swiss National Bank does not see any overall benefit from issuing a central bank digital currency (CBDC) to be used by the general public and used in day to day transactions, governing board member Andrea Maechler said on Tuesday.
"We believe the risks outweigh the benefits," Maechler told a financial conference held in Frankfurt, saying a retail CBDC meant central banks taking on the risks carried by the private sector and increased the risk of bank runs.
There also needed to be a balance struck between safeguarding privacy and the potential misuse of retail CBDCs in criminal activity, Maechler said.
Financial inclusion was also not a sufficient argument for CBDCs in Switzerland, Maechler said, with almost 100% of the country's working population having access to bank accounts, while cash was still widely used.
"This does not mean the SNB is not interested in CBDC, but our focus is to look at the role that wholesale CBDCs could play," Maechler said, referring to their use in transactions between financial institutions like banks.
The SNB last week said it has successfully used digital currency to settle transactions involving five commercial banks, and has also looked into how the technology can be used to improve cross-border payments.
Still, Maechler remained cautious.
"None of these projects are an indication that the SNB is ready to issue a wholesale CBDC," she said.
(Reporting by John Revill, editing by Silke Koltrowitz) ((John.Revill@thomsonreuters.com; +41 58306 7022; Reuters Messaging: email@example.com))