Date: 2 November 2021
Item 1: Objectives and format of the Engagement Forum meetings
Co-chairs Gwyneth Nurse and Jon Cunliffe welcomed the Members and attendees to the first CBDC Engagement Forum meeting. They noted that exploration of CBDC is a multi-year project that is now in the research phase, with the goal of clearly identifying the objective for a UK CBDC, determining the strength of any case for it, the nature of risks, and analysing the possible design, function, and operating model of any CBDC. The Bank of England and HMT’s aim is to move towards a stance on whether or not a CBDC is needed in the UK. Were there a decision to proceed, progressive phases of development, design and technology work would commence.
The co-Chairs explained the objectives of the Forum. The Engagement Forum does not have decision-making responsibilities nor any formal advisory or consultative function. However, it will have contribute to helping the Bank and HMT to understand the views of a range of expert stakeholders on the policy and functional considerations relevant to the design, implementation and operation of a CBDC.
The co-Chairs emphasised the interactive nature of the meetings and the expectation of Member-led presentations and discussions on certain topics in future meetings. To this end, the Chairs encouraged Members to suggest topics for future agendas.
The Chairs reminded Members of their roles and responsibilities on the Forum. Members are expected to act in a personal capacity and to share perspectives that reflected their constituency as a whole, rather than representing the interests of their individual organisations. The Chairs noted that the Forum would be held under the Chatham House Rule, and the minutes would be published. To encourage the frank exchange of perspectives, Members should refrain from attributing publicly any information expressed in meetings.
Item 2: Engagement Forum forward agenda
The Bank and HMT set out a forward agenda of potential topics for the Engagement Forum to discuss (though noting that to cover them all would likely take many meetings). The forward agenda made suggestions as to which topics would be Member-led or Bank/HMT-led, but this was not prescriptive. The co-Chairs invited suggestions on whether there were additional topics that should be on the list and expressions of interest from Members to lead presentations.
Members broadly agreed with the items proposed for inclusion in the forward agenda. They also had a range of suggestions for additional topics for future meetings, and opinions around which of those needed to be given priority. They emphasised the importance of financial inclusion as a topic and the importance of understanding whether CBDC might help address any of the root causes of financial exclusion. Members also expressed interest in co-existence and interoperability of CBDC with other payment rails, both domestically and cross-border, as well as with other forms of digital money such as privately issued stablecoins and, more widely, with DeFi. Members also expressed interest in exploring the interaction between CBDC and other innovation initiatives such as Open Banking.
Some Members thought it was important to prioritise the conversation around economic design, including the case for and against potential limitations on access to CBDC. Others suggested the group should discuss consumer appetite for a CBDC and ways to ensure consumers understand what a CBDC is and how it differs from other forms of digital money.
Item 3: CBDC retail use cases: customer demands and end-user research
The Bank briefly introduced the item and sought Members’ views on the potential benefits of a retail CBDC and on approaches to end-user research. In particular, the Bank and HMT sought input on different approaches to researching user needs and gauging consumer appetite for product innovations.
There were a range of Member views on the need and drivers for a UK CBDC. Some Members expressed that CBDC had potential benefits, e.g. improvement of cross-border payments and unlocking innovations in payment services such as programmability. Some Members emphasised the need to determine whether ongoing innovation in current forms of money and payments could solve the same problems.
There were diverging opinions on the question of whether the Bank and HMT should first define use cases and consumer needs for CBDC and then design CBDC accordingly or, conversely, whether design should come first and use cases would follow – given that some use cases might be hard to imagine without a concrete proposal for CBDC design to react to.
Members agreed that it would be complex to conduct consumer research on a relatively conceptual product such as a retail CBDC. They considered that it was necessary to explain CBDC in a tangible and accessible way in order to receive valuable feedback. That should include clear information to help consumers compare CBDC to current options for money and payments. They also raised that seeking consumer input too early in the exploration process and without substantial context would risk receiving misleading consumer feedback. It was suggested that the Bank should conduct behavioural research as an alternative to traditional surveys to gauge consumer appetite for innovation. Members also agreed that elements of consumer research should focus on specific segments of the population, such as the financially excluded.
The co-Chairs closed the meeting and thanked the Members for their contributions. Subsequent meetings could be slightly longer in duration and the next meeting would be arranged shortly to take place in early 2022.
Annex: Meeting documents
Jon Cunliffe (Chair) Bank of England
Gwyneth Nurse (Chair) HM Treasury
Tom Mutton, Bank of England
Katie Fortune, Bank of England
Shiv Chowla, Bank of England
Andrew Cregan, Head of Finance Policy, British Retail Consortium
Polly Tolley, Director of Impact, Citizens Advice Scotland
Jorn Lambert, Chief Digital Officer, Mastercard
Anne Boden, CEO, Starling Bank
Georges Elhedery, Co-CEO Global Banking & Markets, HSBC
Arun Kohli, COO EMEA, Morgan Stanley
Tracey McDermott, Group Head of Conduct & Financial Crime, Standard Chartered Bank
Chris Rhodes, CFO, Nationwide Building Society
Paul Thwaite, CEO Commercial Banking, NatWest Group
Stephen Gilderdale, Chief Product Officer, SWIFT
Charlotte Hogg, CEO, Visa Europe
Matthew Hunt, Chief Strategy Officer, Deputy CEO, PayUK
Paul Bances, Head of Global Market Development of Blockchain, Cryptocurrency, and Digital Currencies, PayPal
Simon Coles, CTO, PayPoint
Martin McTague, National Policy Chair, Federation of Small Businesses
Andrew Murphy, Executive Director for Operations, John Lewis Partnership
Chris Wilford, Head of Financial Services Policy, CBI
Natasha de Terán, Member of the Financial Services Consumer Panel
Simon Gaysford, Founder & Director, Frontier Economics
Reema Patel, Associate Director, Ada Lovelace Institute
Judith Tyson, Research Fellow, Overseas Development Institute
Christian Catalini, Chief Economist, Diem Association
Jess Houlgrave, Chief of Staff, Checkout.com
Adam Jackson, Director of Policy, Innovate Finance
Jana Mackintosh, Managing Director Payments & Innovation, UK Finance
Ruth Wandhöfer, Chair, PSR Panel
Bryan Zhang, Executive Director, Cambridge Centre for Alternative Finance, the University of Cambridge Judge Business School
Rodney Garratt, Professor of Economics, University of California Santa Barbara
Simon Gleeson, Financial Regulatory Group Lead, Clifford Chance
Arunan Tharmarajah, Head of European Banking, Wise
Diana Layfield, President of EMEA Partnerships, Google
Charles Roxburgh, HM Treasury