More Central Banks Are Exploring a CBDC, BIS Survey Finds

  • The Bank for International Settlements found that 94% of the central banks in its most recent survey were exploring a central bank digital currency.
  • The central banks said they would probably issue a wholesale CBDC for institutions before a retail one.

More central banks than ever before are exploring a central bank digital currency (CBDC), according to a Bank for International Settlements (BIS) survey published Friday.

Among the 86 banks that participated, 94% said they were looking at a digital version of their national currencies. That's up from 90% of 81 respondents in a 2021 survey conducted by the BIS, an umbrella organization for the world's central banks.

Respondents also said they're more likely to issue a wholesale CBDC than a retail version within the next six years. A wholesale version would be accessible only to banks and financial institutions, while a retail version could be used by the public for day-to-day life.

Countries worldwide have been exploring whether or not to produce a digital currency for years, with China among one of the earliest. Nigeria and the Bahamas were among the first countries to issue their own CBDCs.

"For retail CBDCs, more than half of central banks are considering holding limits, interoperability, offline options and zero remuneration," the BIS said.

The survey, conducted between October 2023 and January 2024, also found that stablecoins, cryptocurrencies whose value is pegged to a specific asset such as the dollar or gold, are rarely used for payments outside the crypto ecosystem.