Swiss central bank completes CBDC settlement pilot project with commercial banks

The Swiss National Bank (SNB) has successfully completed a pilot test in which it integrated its central bank digital currency (CBDC) wholesale settlement with commercial banks. The bank partnered with the Bank for International Settlements and five commercial banks for the pilot project.

As part of the Helvetia project, SNB has been testing a wholesale CBDC for settlement in Switzerland for several years. In the first phase, the bank explored the feasibility of integrating its wholesale CBDC into a financial markets infrastructure based on decentralized ledger technology (DLT).

In one Press release this week, SNB revealed that it had completed phase 2 of the Helvetia project, in which it had demonstrated that it was possible to integrate wholesale CBDC into existing core banking systems.

In the second phase, the SNB joined forces with the BIS and SIX, the main Swiss stock exchange. It also partnered with five commercial banks whose settlement systems integrated the wholesale CBDC – Credit Suisse, Citi, UBS, Goldman Sachs and Hypothekarbank Lenzburg.

The SNB conducted the experiment in the fourth quarter of 2021. It explored the “settlement of interbank, monetary policy and cross-border transactions on the test systems of SIX Digital Exchange (SDX), the Swiss real-time gross settlement system – SIX Interbank Clearing (SIC) – and core banking systems.

Despite the major advances of the Helvetia project, both in this phase and in the 2020 phase, the SNB is adamant that it has not yet taken a decision on whether or not to issue a digital Swiss franc.

“To continue to fulfill their mandate of ensuring monetary and financial stability, central banks must stay abreast of technological change. The Helvetia project is an excellent example of how to achieve this. This has allowed the SNB to deepen its understanding of how the security of central bank money could be extended to symbolic asset markets,” commented Andréa M Maechler, Member of the Board of Directors of the SNB. .

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