CBDC Engagement Forum terms of reference

Terms of reference

Purpose and scope

The Engagement Forum (EF) will provide a forum to engage senior stakeholders and gather strategic input on all non-technology aspects of the Central Bank Digital Currency (‘CBDC’) from a diverse cross-section of expertise and perspectives. A UK CBDC would be the digital pound for use by households and businesses for their everyday payments, issued by the central bank, the Bank of England (the Bank). The Bank and HM Treasury (HMT) consider the digital pound is likely to be needed in the UK though no decision to introduce one can be taken at this stage. We are therefore stepping up development and moving to the design stage of our work.

The Bank and HMT will use the EF to inform their approach to CBDC including policy considerations and functional requirements pertaining to CBDC. More generally, the EF and its outputs will have an important role in helping the Bank and HMT understand the practical challenges of designing, implementing and operating a CBDC. There will be no obligation however, for the Bank or HMT to act on the output of the EF or any related working groups. The EF will not have any decision making responsibilities, no formal advisory capacity nor will the authorities be under any obligation to formally consult the EF. The EF will not replace the generally applicable mechanisms for consultation and engagement that the Bank and HMT operate in fulfilment of their statutory objectives.

By way of example, the EF will consider issues such as – but not limited to – ‘use cases’ for CBDC, functional needs of CBDC users, roles of public and private sectors in a CBDC system, financial & digital inclusion considerations, and data & privacy implications.

The EF will not routinely discuss CBDC technology issues, which will instead be considered in detail by the CBDC Technology Forum (whose Terms of Reference can be found on the Bank of England website).

Chair and secretariat

The EF will be co-chaired by the Deputy Governor for Financial Stability at the Bank and Director General for Financial Services at HMT. The Bank and HMT will jointly provide the Secretariat.


Participation in the EF is at the invitation of the Bank and HMT. Members will be drawn from the relevant range of CBDC stakeholders: from financial institutions, to civil society groups, to merchants, business users and consumers. The selection process is set out in Annex 1 to this document.

The EF will comprise a diverse set of knowledgeable participants with relevant background and experience in working with retail payments. Members will be very senior figures within their own institutions (for example, C-level executives) and have a strong understanding of the interests of their constituency. Membership is on an individual basis (rather than an organisational basis) and is dependent on individuals having relevant expertise to be able to contribute to the discussions and commit their own time to the EF. A member who steps down cannot therefore automatically pass on their seat to a replacement within their organisation.

Given the importance attached to the input of named members, the co-Chairs would not expect members to send an alternate in the event that they are unable to attend a meeting. In this situation members would have the opportunity to provide written feedback on the papers being discussed ahead of the meeting.

The Bank and HMT also intend to set up working groups addressing requests-for-information on select topics. These will comprise small groups of subject matter experts which may include a mix of EF members, their deputies, and outside-forum experts, who will conduct deep-dives on specific topics.

The members of the EF may nominate senior staff with technical knowledge of retail payments from their organisations to act as the regular, day-to-day points of contact for the Secretariat and to provide inputs for agendas and papers.

Non-EF observers may also be invited to attend specific EF meetings/ working groups if and when it is considered necessary at the discretion of the Chair. The observers and any other non-member participants must comply with these Terms of Reference.

Working Groups

The Bank and HMT will periodically place open requests-for-information (RFI) on specific topics relevant to their exploration in the design phase on their respective websites. Organisations would be asked to submit a well considered but brief response to the request, and nominate a staff member who would be called upon for further discussion of the topic, by way of membership on a temporary working groups.

The Bank and HMT will review responses and select membership for the working groups comprising members with relevant knowledge and expertise, and in a way to ensure suitable distribution of participants across the topics. Working group would comprise a mixture of these external volunteers, and existing EF members and/or their deputies, where selected.

Working groups will be asked to work together to consider the topics in the RFIs in further detail. They may also be asked to present their work to the EF. The Bank and HMT expect to gain valuable insight from the work of these groups but are not bound by any recommendations the groups may make.

The Bank and HMT expect to nominate one member of the working groups to be leader and will ask them to coordinate the work of the group. Working groups would have flexibility as to their ways of working: we would expect them to gather regularly, up to the delivery point of the presentation. A member of Bank or HMT will attend those meetings in an observer capacity and is not expected to lead or contribute to the output. We would expect a time commitment would be needed for each member of the working groups, so applicants/nominees should ensure they have appropriate capacity before applying.

Whilst the working groups are separate from the EF, we expect working group members to comply with the sections on conflicts of interest, competition law, confidentiality provisions and information-sharing in these Terms of Reference.

The Bank and HMT do not expect to publish either submissions made in response to the RFI, nor the outputs of the working groups– only a summarised description of the EF discussion of the working groups’ conclusions, as is the case with the EF’s published minutes today.

Members of the working groups grant the Bank and HMT a perpetual, irrevocable, non-attributable, non-exclusive, royalty-free, worldwide and sub-licensable licence, to use the outputs of the working groups to further both authorities’ work on a UK CBDC where relevant including, in relation to facilitating the potential adoption of a CBDC.

Should the Bank wish to further develop particular ideas or outputs from the working groups, it is required to comply with public procurement law and shall not be fettered in its discretion to seek and enter into appropriate commercial agreements accordingly.

Participation in these working groups is conditional upon acceptance of these conditions.

Responsibilities and activities

The Bank and HMT will engage the EF on material issues related to the CBDC exploratory work programme. In this respect EF members are expected to offer frank and robust inputs and challenge.

The co-Chairs may invite members to nominate themselves as lead discussants for certain topics. Subject to agreement by the co-Chairs, members may also nominate subject-matter experts not on the EF to present on their research.

The EF is not a decision-making body for the CBDC exploratory work programme, but its views will inform and play a role in the Bank and HMT’s work on CBDC. The activities, discussions, and outputs of the EF should not be taken as an indication of future policy by the Bank or HMT or considered binding for future policy work or decisions.

Members of the EF are expected to:

  • attend physical/ virtual meetings as required, including working groups (where applicable), unless otherwise agreed with the co-Chairs;
  • provide technical, analytical, and business perspectives and inputs to the discussions;
  • act in a personal capacity and to contribute to the EF with a view to sharing perspectives that reflect their constituency as whole, rather than representing the views or interests of their individual organisations; and
  • treat information disclosed or opinions expressed during EF meetings as confidential unless and until the EF has authorised their public release.

The co-Chairs are responsible for:

  • Setting the strategy for the EF and shaping its forward agenda;
  • guiding and moderating the discussions in meetings;
  • inviting Observers to attend meetings and/or working groups, where appropriate; and
  • obtaining members’ agreement on any proposed outputs.

The Secretariat will be responsible for:

  • The organisation and coordination of the EF’s activities, including timely circulation of minutes after meetings and publication of summary minutes on the Bank website;
  • preparation of the agenda and materials for the meetings, which may incorporate input from members; and
  • co-ordinating any outreach to other market participants and stakeholders, if required.

The EF will meet quarterly for the duration of the CBDC design phase. The co-Chairs may need to vary the meeting frequency where circumstances demand it.

Members can request and/or suggest specific topics to be included in meeting or workshop agendas. Any such request should be communicated to the Secretariat before the relevant meeting or workshop to which the agenda relates. The final content of any agenda will be decided jointly by the co-Chairs.

The Secretariat will share with Members drafts of summaries and minutes of the discussions held during the meetings after each meeting. Members may communicate any comments or edits on the content to the Secretariat within one week of receiving the summary. The final content of any meeting summary will be decided jointly by the co-Chairs.

Reporting, confidentiality and accountability

The Bank and HMT are committed to being transparent about their work and the work of the EF. A summary of the minutes of discussions will be published after each meeting.

The co-Chairs may elect, from time to time, to hold open sessions of the EF where a wider set of participants can observe the meeting, including over digital platforms. Any plans to do this will be discussed with the EF in advance. Any non-member participants must comply with these Terms of Reference.

Interested parties who are not Members of the EF are welcome to send their views on topics discussed by the EF to cbdc@bankofengland.co.uk.

Any information provided or opinions expressed during EF meetings, will be treated as confidential unless and until the EF has authorised their public release. Participants may be exposed to non-public information in the course of their work in the EF. Involvement of third parties in handling this material is strongly discouraged. Individual participants are expected to accept responsibility for ensuring that third-parties are not able to access any information which is shared with them through the EF.

Where confidential information is used or disclosed by a Participant in the course of their participation in the EF, they agree to:

  • keep such information secret and confidential;
  • not use or exploit the information in any way except for the purposes of the EF as set out in these Terms of Reference;
  • not directly or indirectly disclose or make available any such confidential information in whole or in part to any person, except as expressly permitted in writing by the Bank or in accordance with these Terms of Reference; and
  • not to copy, reduce to writing or otherwise record confidential information except as strictly necessary for the purposes of the EF as set out in these Terms of Reference.

Intellectual Property

Participants accept that by participating in the EF they will not gain any ownership rights to any intellectual property in the output of the EF, any Intellectual Property Rights in such outputs shall remain vested in the Bank.

However, nothing in these terms is intended to affect any pre-existing intellectual property rights in material brought into the EF by Participants. It is the responsibility of the relevant Participant to draw attention to intellectual property rights subsisting in information shared within the EF.

Relationship to the wider CBDC work programme and other engagement groups

Views from the EF will be fed into the Bank and HMT’s wider work programme on CBDC. The co-Chairs will be responsible for representing the EF’s views inside their respective organisations, including sharing them with relevant decision making bodies.

The issues raised by the EF may inform the topics considered by other engagement groups (for example, the CBDC Technology Forum), and vice versa. The minutes of other engagement groups will be made available to EF members via the Bank’s website.

Conflicts of interest, competition law and information-sharing

Members are responsible for identifying financial or other interests that could create or be seen to create a conflict of interest as a participant of the EF, as soon as they arise. This includes reviewing the forward agenda and identifying and declaring any conflicts of interest to the Secretariat before every meeting. If a member finds that a conflict of interest becomes apparent only as the meeting progresses, the nature of the conflict should be declared as soon as practicable to the co-Chairs. The co-Chairs will then decide how the conflict should be managed, including whether the member should:

  • leave the meeting during discussions relating to the conflicted matter;
  • stay in the meeting but not participate in the discussion; or
  • stay in the meeting and participate freely.

It is the responsibility of each Member to ensure they understand and comply with their obligations under all applicable competition law. To the extent that any participant is unclear about these, they should seek legal advice and if appropriate arrange to undertake competition law compliance training or seek further guidance at their respective organisations.

Participants may request further protections for any data and information shared with the EF. Participants may make requests either by communicating the request (i) directly to the Bank and HMT or (ii) to the Members and Co-chairs for discussion at the next EF meeting.

It is the responsibility of any Member to ensure that they are satisfied with the level of protection for any information shared by them. If they are not satisfied, then it is the Member’s responsibility to not share any such information.

Data protection

See Annex 2 for data protection information.


Neither the Bank nor HMT, or any of their staff, officials, or representatives, including but not limited to the EF co-Chairs and Secretariat, are responsible for any views or statements expressed by other Participants.

Views expressed by the EF in its outputs may not reflect the views of the Bank or HMT.

The activities, discussions, and outputs of the EF should not be taken as an indication of future policy by the Bank or HMT. The Bank and HMT policy positions will continue to be developed and communicated in accordance with the usual governance and public consultation procedures of the two organisations.

Annex 1: Membership selection process and criteria

Selection process

The Bank and HMT placed a call for interest for new members to join the EF on 9 August 2023 with a closing date of 3 September 2023.

Applicants were asked to provide a brief summary (no more than 500 words) of their role and experience, as well as their suitability to join the EF and their interest in CBDC. Applicants were asked to provide a specific example (no more than 250 words) of a challenge related to the potential use of CBDC in their organisation or constituency. Applications should be submitted by email to cbdc@bankofengland.co.uk.

The Bank and HMT will review all applications and, using the below criteria, select approximately seven additional members to add to the EF.

As a guide, the Bank and HMT will consider the selection criteria set out below in evaluating applications. In addition to these criteria the Bank and HMT will consider the overall balance of the forum in terms of representation of sectors, areas of expertise and individual characteristics.

  • Knowledge and experience. Members should be a knowledgeable and experienced professional from academia, law, a civil society group, a financial services firm, an organisation active in retail or the digital economy, a trade or consumer representative body, a think-tank, a registered charity or non-government organisation. They should have first-hand professional experience working with retail payments or access to financial services, and/or of shaping and delivering relevant large-scale change programmes.
  • Understanding of policy perspective. It is preferable if the member can demonstrate understanding of policy issues related to the use of CBDC in the UK economy.
  • Resources. It is important that the member is able to commit sufficient time and resources to the EF. The required commitment will include attendance at meetings four times per year, as well as additional working groups (as required), and preparatory work. Note that the Bank and HMT have now published requests for information on selected topics associated with the development of the digital pound. EF members or their deputies are encouraged to submit responses to these requests, and join or lead the subsequent workshops formed by the Bank and HMT to explore these topics in more detail. Members will also need to provide input into meeting and workshop agendas and papers (potentially at working level from within their organisations).
  • Diversity. They should contribute to the overall diversity of members and the institutions they come from. The EF reflects diversity in all its forms both in terms of individuals and also the organisations that they work for, so that the EF may draw on a rich variety of knowledge and experiences amongst its members. On an individual level, the EF seeks to be representative of the gender and ethnic diversity of the UK population, and seek to incorporate members of different backgrounds to support diversity of thought. On an organisational level, a variety of organisations based on size, geography (reaching all regions of the UK), nature of business, etc. may be selected.

Composition and participation

The EF consists of a group of Members from the public and private sector. Membership will be as representative as possible of the UK retail payments sector.

Members are expected to represent institutions from a range of sectors, including (but not limited to):

  • Academia
  • Law
  • Banking and financial services
  • Consumer and civil society representative groups
  • Fintechs
  • Merchants
  • Non-Governmental Organisations / Think Tanks
  • Payment companies
  • Technology companies
  • Trade bodies

Annex 2: Data protection information

Why we need your personal data

In the application for membership of the Central Bank Digital Currency (CBDC) Engagement Forum (EF), The Bank of England (‘we’ or the ‘Bank’) and His Majesty’s Treasury (‘we’ or HMT) collects personal data about you. This data includes your name, work email address, professional information and opinions. We may also collect this information from individuals or organisations who nominate an individual for membership of the EF. We will also collect views and opinions shared by individuals participating in meetings for the EF.

What we do with your personal data

We will use the information for the purpose of reviewing EF membership applications, to communicate with members and unsuccessful applicants about future membership opportunities. To ensure that the external engagement on CBDC is transparent, the names and company affiliations of EF members will be published on the Bank and HMT websites. We will process personal data where necessary for the performance of tasks carried out in the public interest.

How we store your personal data

We will keep your personal data in line with our retention policies, please see ‘More information’ for details.

Your privacy rights

You have a number of rights under data protection laws.  For example, you have the right to ask us for a copy of the personal data we hold about you.  This is known as a ‘Subject Access Request’.  You can ask us to change how we process or deal with your personal data, and you may also have the right in some circumstances to have your personal data amended or request that we no longer use your personal data and have it deleted.

More information

For further information about how HMT processes personal data or to contact the Data Protection Officer please see HMT’s Personal Information Charter.

To find out more about how the Bank protects the privacy of the individuals whose data we process and to contact the Bank’s Data Protection Officer, please see Privacy and the Bank of England.

This page was last updated 23 October 2023