Swiss Test Integrates Wholesale CBDC Into Core Banking Systems

January 17, 2022
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As part of Project Helvetia, the Swiss National Bank and five commercial banks have integrated a wholesale central bank digital currency (CBDC) in their existing back-office systems and processes.

As part of Project Helvetia, the Swiss National Bank (SNB) and five commercial banks have integrated a wholesale central bank digital currency (CBDC) into their existing back-office systems and processes.

“Integrating a wholesale [CBDC] into existing core banking systems is complex and a key prerequisite for issuance. Phase II of Project Helvetia successfully demonstrates that such integration is operationally possible,” the SNB said in an announcement.

It concludes that “issuing a wholesale CBDC on a distributed ledger technology (DLT) platform operated and owned by a private sector company is feasible under Swiss law".

The experiment took place in the second phase of Project Helvetia, a joint project by the Bank for International Settlements (BIS), the SNB and SIX, Switzerland’s main provider of financial infrastructure services.

Its main focus is on the integration of a CBDC into a financial market infrastructure for the custody and transfer of tokenised securities based on DLT.

The test was carried out during the fourth quarter of 2021 and included commercial banks Citi, Credit Suisse, Goldman Sachs, Hypothekarbank Lenzburg and UBS.

The first phase of the project, which concluded in December 2020, analysed and tested the issue of a wholesale CBDC and the creation of an interface between DLT-based financial market infrastructure and SIX.

“To continue fulfilling their mandates of ensuring monetary and financial stability, central banks need to stay on top of technological change. Project Helvetia is a prime example of how to achieve this,” said Andréa M. Maechler, member of the governing board at the SNB.

“It allowed the SNB to deepen its understanding of how the safety of central bank money could be extended to tokenised asset markets,” she added

The Swiss central bank reiterated in the statement that Project Helvetia is purely experimental and does not indicate that the SNB intends to issue wholesale CBDC.

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