The Bank of England is looking into how Britain could adopt digital currency amid the emergence of private-sector digital currencies, such as bitcoin and Facebook’s libra, which is due to be launched this year.

Bank officials will meet with the Bank of Japan, the European Central Bank (ECB), the Sveriges Riksbank, the Bank of Canada, the Swiss National Bank and the Bank for International Settlements (BIS) to pool research and experiences of the potential for a central bank digital currency (CBDC).

The idea of a central bank digital currency is not a new one with many countries like China looking digitise the yuan to help improve payment systems and cross-border transactions.

Just last month, Sweden’s central bank said it had created a pilot platform for a digital currency, known as the e-krona.

The European Central Bank has also been investigating the possible benefits of CBDC since last year with a ‘Eurocoin’ white paper tabled in November last year.

Fran Boait, executive director of Positive Money, said policymakers had been slow to realise how much enthusiasm there was for digital money.

Fran Boait, executive director of Positive Money,

“They have been asleep at the wheel over the future of our money system being determined by a small number of banks, payment companies and now tech giants.

“Central banks need to accelerate plans for a central bank digital currency, which would both ensure that people have the choice of a safe public banking option and prevent our monetary system being completely surrendered to unaccountable private interests.”

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