Date: 2 March 2023
Item 1: Welcome
Co-chairs Gwyneth Nurse and Jon Cunliffe welcomed Members to the fifth meeting of the CBDC Engagement Forum.
Item 2: The digital pound Consultation Paper
The Bank of England and HM Treasury presented a summary of the Consultation Paper and the accompanying Technology Working Paper, published on 7 February 2023. The presentation covered the headlines, motivations, conceptual architecture, and main design features of the proposal for a UK CBDC, called the digital pound.
Forum Members welcomed the publication of the papers. Some Members were interested in understanding how the digital pound work would fit alongside other initiatives in payments that are being built or explored, such as the New Payments Architecture, and noted that there could be efficiencies in working closely with industry to ensure coordination with that work.
Given the potential introduction of a digital pound would still be a few years away, some Members argued that the digital pound infrastructure would need to be extensible and built to accommodate future changes in technology and business models. Members also expressed interest in understanding how the digital pound would coexist with the current main settlement system, RTGS (Real Time Gross Settlement).
Some Members welcomed the Consultation Paper’s proposal to build the digital pound as a public platform to support private sector innovation. They noted that “pass-through” wallets, which would not hold digital pounds on their balance sheets, opened the door for new business opportunities in the payments landscape, which could allow for new innovative solutions to emerge. Members thought that it could be worth widening public engagement with potential future ecosystem participants, both Payment Interface Providers (PIPs) and merchants, to help them start thinking about how a digital pound would apply to their business models in the long term.
Some members noted that the proposed holding limit of £10,000 to £20,000 per individual described in the paper was higher than they had expected to see. Some thought this would be beneficial for innovation, while others questioned whether a relatively high limit could make digital pound wallets a direct competitor of traditional bank deposits, which could represent a risk to financial stability.
Item 3: Engagement in the next phase of work on the digital pound
The Bank of England and HM Treasury explained that they would step up the work on the digital pound after the publication of the paper, entering the “design phase”. In this phase, the work of authorities will become more detailed, and there will be a strong focus on operational and technical challenges. Forum Co-chairs sought feedback from Members on the format and functioning of the Engagement Forum over its first year and gathered views on how to maintain an appropriate level of engagement in the next phase.
Overall, Members thought that the Forum was a useful vehicle for authorities to hear different opinions from a wide range of stakeholders and agreed it should be maintained going forward, while acknowledging that changes to its format could be considered to allow for more in-depth conversation on specific topics.
Some Forum Members observed that it would be useful to intensify engagement with the real economy, including a wider array of firms, in conversations about the digital pound. They noted that the publication of the CP could facilitate a wider discussion and be a useful tool to make this issue more tangible to people not familiar with it.
The co-Chairs closed the meeting and thanked the Members for their contributions.
Jon Cunliffe (Chair), Bank of England
Gwyneth Nurse (Chair), HM Treasury
Nicholas Butt, Bank of England
Katie Fortune, Bank of England
Simon Scorer, Bank of England
Danny Russell, Bank of England
Guillermo Pons, Bank of England
Clare Roberts, HM Treasury
Frankie Evans, HM Treasury
Adam Jackson, Director of Policy, Innovate Finance
Andrew Murphy, Executive Director for Operations, John Lewis Partnership
Anne Boden, CEO, Starling Bank
Arunan Tharmarajah, Head of European Banking, Wise
Bryan Zhang, Executive Director, Cambridge Centre for Alternative Finance
Charlotte Hogg, CEO, Visa Europe
Harry Newman, Head of Market and Client Strategy, SWIFT
Jana Mackintosh, Managing Director Payments & Innovation, UK Finance
Jess Houlgrave, Chief of Staff, Checkout.com
Kate Frankish, Chief Business Development Officer, PayUK
Martin McTague, National Policy Chair, Federation of Small Businesses
Megan Coulson, FS Innovation and Payments, CBI
Natasha de Terán, Member of the Financial Services Consumer Panel
Paul Thwaite, CEO Commercial Banking, NatWest Group
Polly Tolley, Director of Impact, Citizens Advice Scotland
Ruth Wandhöfer, Chair, PSR Panel
Simon Coles, CTO, PayPoint
Simon Gaysford, Founder & Director, Frontier Economics
Tracey McDermott, Group Head of Conduct & Financial Crime, Standard Chartered Bank
Arun Kohli, COO EMEA, Morgan Stanley
Christian Catalini, Chief Strategy Officer, Lightspark
Chris Rhodes, CFO, Nationwide Building Society
Diana Layfield, President of EMEA Partnerships, Google
Georges Elhedery, Co-CEO Global Banking & Markets, HSBC
Hannah Regan, Financial Policy Lead, British Retail Consortium
Jorn Lambert, Chief Digital Officer, MasterCard
Judith Tyson, Research Fellow, Overseas Development Institute
Paul Bances, Head of Global Market Development of Blockchain, Cryptocurrency, and Digital Currencies, PayPal
Reema Patel, Head of Deliberative Engagement, Ipsos UK
Simon Gleeson, Financial Regulatory Group Lead, Clifford Chance