The U.K.’s treasury chief, Rishi Sunak, has dubbed a possible digital pound the “Britcoin,” and said the Bank of England and the Treasury Department would look into the benefits of setting up a central bank digital currency, Reuters reported on Monday (April 19).
During the pandemic, cash payments have generally been in decline as fear of COVID-19 spread. The “Britcoin” would be for use by households and businesses and would exist alongside cash and bank deposits, rather than replacing them.
Further, Reuters reported, the digital version of the pound could allow businesses and consumers to hold accounts directly with the bank — and to sidestep other financial industry players when making payments.
“We’re launching a new task force between the Treasury and the Bank of England to coordinate exploratory work on a potential central bank digital currency (CBDC),” Sunak said at a financial industry conference. Reuters said that Sunak, soon after speaking, tweeted out the single word “Britcoin.”
The Associated Press reported that Anne Boden, founder and chief executive of app-based Starling Bank, commented, “The world is going the way of digital currencies, and we have to find a place for them in the mainstream.”
The AP said that, at this point, only the Bahamas has such a currency. However, China has been testing out a digital yuan in several cities, and Sweden said it could have its own digital currency by 2026. In addition, the European Central Bank has indicated an electronic euro might be created within four years.
Sunak told the U.K. FinTech Week conference, “Our vision is for a more open, greener, and more technologically advanced financial services sector. And if we can capture the extraordinary potential of technology, we’ll cement the U .K.’s position as the world’s preeminent financial center.”
The creation of a task force on a digital currency raises the ante as countries around the globe explore the use of a cryptocurrencies.
Selected by EFXA