The Bank of England is recruiting a team to work on the development of a digital pound as payments using central bank digital currencies (CBDCs) are set to soar.
The ongoing research and development around digital currencies will support the government as it faces a “profound decision” on the use of a CBDC.
According to a report by The Times, the UK regulator is looking for up to 30 people to work on the team creating a potential CBDC for the UK.
In January this year, the government began building its CBDC team by posting a job advert for a digital currency leader, seeking someone with experience of “working in financial services or of public policy-making in a technical subject or highly regulated area”.
The job advert added: “Today, the Bank of England issues only physical bank notes. A digital pound would be a new form of digital money for use by households and businesses issued directly by the Bank of England.”
The news that the Bank of England is now looking for up to 30 people signals the project has moved on.
A central bank-backed digital currency is a digital coin issued by a central bank, linked to the country’s fiat currency. As such, it would always retain its value – unlike volatile cryptocurrencies – and would replicate the use of cash.
Central banks will need to create regulations to address a number of issues to ensure that society benefits from new ways of making payments. A Bank of England discussion paper, published in June 2021, stated that before new forms of digital money “could be used widely, there are issues around the safety of money and macroeconomic stability that need to be addressed”.
In February this year, the UK Treasury launched a consultation on its plans to launch a digital currency, which could lead to a government-backed digital pound.
The digital pound consultation is to help inform the government – it does not mean a decision has been made to introduce a digital currency.
Bank of England governor Andrew Bailey said: “As the world around us and the way we pay for things becomes more digitalised, the case for a digital pound in the future continues to grow. A digital pound would provide a new way to pay, help businesses, maintain trust in money and better protect financial stability.”
He said the consultation would help the government make “a profound decision for the country on the way we use money”.
According to recent numbers from Juniper Research, payments made using CBDCs globally will grow from $100m this year to $200bn in 2030 – a 260,000% increase over the next seven years.
Juniper said the CBDC sector is in its early stages of development, with mainly pilot projects, but it expects government projects to boost financial inclusion will stimulate adoption. This will particularly be the case in emerging economies “where mobile penetration is significantly higher than banking penetration”.
Juniper’s research found that 92% of total CBDC transactions in 2030 would be domestic payments, compared with 100% in current pilots.