Swiss Central and Commercial Banks Collaborate with SIX Swiss Exchange to Launch Wholesale CBDC Pilot

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The Swiss National Bank (SNB) has embarked on a collaborative venture with six commercial banks and the SIX Swiss Exchange to explore the use of wholesale central bank digital currencies (CBDCs), launching a project referred to as the Swiss franc wCBDC.

This initiative, known as Helvetia Phase III, is set to evaluate the practicality of utilising a Swiss Franc wCBDC for the settlement of transactions involving digital securities. This initiative follows up on the insights gathered from the previous two stages of the Helvetia project, which were executed by the BIS Innovation Hub, the SNB, and SIX.

Participating in this groundbreaking trial are Banque Cantonale Vaudoise, Basler Kantonalbank, Commerzbank, Hypothekarbank Lenzburg, UBS, and Zürcher Kantonalbank—all of which are current members of the SIX Digital Exchange (SDX).

The trial will be conducted on the SDX platform and will integrate the services of Swiss Interbank Clearing. The scheduled timeframe for this exploration is between December 2023 and June 2024.

In this period, the involved banks will take part in generating digital Swiss franc bonds, and these will be reconciled against the wCBDC following a delivery-versus-payment method. The test setting ensures that all processed transactions are backed by digital bonds and seamlessly settled on the SDX using wCBDC.

In a broader scope of digital currency experimentation, the Swiss Financial Market Supervisory Authority is working in conjunction with Japan’s Financial Services Agency, the Financial Conduct Authority of the UK, and the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) on several crypto-related pilot projects.

These international efforts, as noted in past coverage, are directed at piloting activities concerning products in the realms of fixed income, foreign exchange, and asset management. The MAS has underscored the growing necessity for augmented cross-border cooperation among policy makers and regulatory bodies as these pilots advance in complexity and reach.

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