Following the financial crisis of 2008, the nature of money and monetary creation have become topics of debate in several countries. In Switzerland, the debate over the creation of an “electronic franc” (ie. a central bank digital currency) will surely gain momentum in the coming years. The proposal gained the support of some elected officials and senior executives in the financial sector who saw in it a credible alternative to the “Full Money” initiative, allowing central banks to retain a sure footing in payments in the face of the rise of private cryptocurrencies, while leaving untouched the freedom of commercial banks to develop credit activities and attract deposits.
On 14 March 2018, the Wermuth Postulate (N° 18.3159) was submitted, asking the Federal Council to elaborate a report on the feasibility and stakes of the creation of a cryptofranc (“Etablir un rapport sur la faisabilité et les enjeux de la création d’un cryptofranc”). Simultaneously, on 15 March 2018, Guillaume Barazzone submitted an Interpellation entitled “Un cryptofranc pour la Suisse?”. The Postulate, accepted by the Parliament, forces the Federal Council to study this topic and provide a report on it.
The question is all the more important since companies like Facebook are now proposing their own private payment system combining big data and cryptocurrencies. The risks, however, are significant with private payment systems combining speculation and use of personal data.
Given the importance of this issue for our payment system and in anticipation of the public debate that will develop, the Observatoire de la Finance has deepened the study of this issue in a report analyzing the opportunities, risks and impacts of central bank digital currencies.
The report, which can be downloaded below in several languages, exists in 2 versions:
An « international version » concerning potentially any state
A « Swiss version » focused more specifically on the Swiss case