Monthly Archives: September 2021

The Britcoin – the new player in the race for effective CBDC?

The former finance minister of Greece, Yanis Varoufakis, seems to have found a perfect playground for his economics. In the novel Another Now which he wrote, he created a whole new alternative universe, where stocks have been abolished. It is indeed a sort of financial sci-fi

Everyone in his world is entitled to personal monthly capital. It’s a sort of allowance paid out by the central banks that own all the saving accounts. Everything is administered with the use of a digital currency, and the system is perfectly transparent. It successfully bypasses retail banks with all their interest rates focused on commercial success.

Could it be that Varoufakis’ utopia is closer than we could imagine? The race to introduce the sustainable CBDC (central bank digital currency) has already begun, and the United Kingdom has entered it as the latest big competitor. During the UK’s Fintech Week it has been announced that the special Chancellor’s Taskforce will engage with stakeholders to better understand the practicalities, benefits, and risks of opening the possibility to set up an account with the Bank of England.

To catch a glimpse of what this “Britcoin” really is, we could take a look at the only two existent examples of similar endeavors. In October 2020, Barbados has issued “Sand Dollar”, a block-chain-encrypted digital currency that has been tied to Barbadian Dollar. It’s been introduced so that the government is able to transfer big funds between the islands during the (rather frequently occurring) natural disasters. The other example is the Chinese Yuan (only in digital form), which is being currently piloted in chosen municipalities.

Britcoin – what are the reasons for it?

The United Kingdom’s needs are obviously different to the ones from China and Barbados. Their version of central bank digital currency will prioritize interbank over retail. This seems to be the safer option, acting as a crypto-currency investment signal in the short-term. This is supposed to be the basis for the architecture of future retail projects.

In February, the Taskforce received some recommendations from Kalifa Review about the United Kingdom’s UK Fintech outlook. Basically it highlighted the need of developing more and more cashless society, as well as making the payment processes cheaper. The possible pay-off is very tempting, though. Back in 2016, the Bank of England reported, that if 30% of GDP was circulated as the digital currency, the GDP itself would grow permanently by 3%.

Britcoin, should it become the finished product, will most likely become a hit with British consumers, who are already widely accustomed to services such as TransferWise, Nutmeg, and (most notably) Revolut.

If the government plans will prove to be serious enough, they should be aware of the consequences for the local banking sector, too. To get the fuller picture, maybe they should read more carefully into Varoufakis’ work, as it isn’t too far away from their solutions.

Is Britcoin welcome in the United Kingdom?

Bank of England should be more than keen to introduce its own CBDC. This would free them from relying on the commercial banks. With universal CBDC the central bank would be able to directly pay for assets with their own money. Is this a very smart and profitable way to bypass the banking sector? Of course, yes.

How will (and should) commercial banks fit in this entirely new financial market? The full implementation of UK’s CBDC will pose questions regarding the need for capabilities of the retail banking services. If the central bank will be the only entity responsible for the payments and the store of value. And Haydn Jones, the UK Blockchain and Crypto PwC’s specialist seems to be giving the answer to that. One thing is sure – implementation of Britcoin will be a big and demanding task.

To find it out, as well as read the whole original piece written for Disruption Banking by Oliver Rhodes, enter the following link. You’ll access the full comprehensive analysis enriched with quotes from specialist: