The Swiss National Bank (SNB) is set to launch a pilot project for a wholesale central bank digital currency (wCBDC) on the country’s SIX digital exchange. Thomas Jordan, chair of the SNB, announced the pilot at the Point Zero Forum in Zurich, stating it will start soon and run for a limited time. The wCBDC will be the equivalent of bank reserves and will be used to test real transactions with market participants.
Wholesale vs. Retail CBDCs
The pilot will focus on a wCBDC used to settle interbank transfers and related wholesale transactions, as opposed to a retail CBDC (rCBDC), which would be used by the general public for daily transactions. Jordan explained that the SNB has concerns about the potential risks an rCBDC poses to the country’s financial system and prefers a cautious approach.
Global CBDC Developments
More than 110 countries are currently exploring the creation of CBDCs, with most in research and pilot phases. China leads in CBDC development, with its digital yuan being tested in 17 provinces and 5.6 million merchants. Recently, the Shanghai Clearing House announced the start of digital yuan clearing and settlement services for trading in commodities, signaling further institutional adoption.