Modernizing Financial Markets with Wholesale Central Bank Digital Currency (wCBDC)

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Achieving secure and efficient modernisation of wholesale financial markets will require close collaboration between the public and private sectors. As such, the World Economic Forum, in collaboration with Accenture, have published a new report exploring practical insights for policymakers and the private sector as they plan for the potential adoption of wCBDCs.

Nearly all central banks worldwide—more than 98%—are exploring, experimenting with, or implementing central bank digital currencies (CBDCs) to find innovative ways to modernise and enhance access to central bank money (CeBM). This focus on CBDCs presents an opportunity to improve wholesale financial markets by streamlining critical institutional payment systems. The aim is to ensure these systems are secure and efficient, fostering financial stability, enabling domestic and international trade, and supporting broader economic growth.

Central banks are updating real-time gross settlement (RTGS) systems, which are the backbone of wholesale fund transfers. Wholesale CBDCs (wCBDCs) could help address current and future challenges in interbank payments and securities transactions. At the same time, new payment instruments like reserves-backed digital currencies (RBDCs), deposit tokens (DTs), and fiat-backed stablecoins (FBSs) are redefining the concept of digital money.

Given this evolving landscape and a recent survey indicating the potential for 24 CBDCs to be operational by 2030, it’s crucial to clarify the roles of CeBM and wCBDC in the future of wholesale financial markets. This report aims to shed light on these developments, examining how central banks, commercial banks, and financial market infrastructures (FMIs) such as custodians, depositories, exchanges, clearinghouses, and settlement agents can better understand the benefits of wCBDCs.

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