The Bank of Japan will begin central bank digital currency (CBDC) experiments early next year but says it still does not yet have any plans to issue its own digital yen.
Central banks around the world have been grappling for years with the pros and cons of creating their own digital currencies.
However, in recent months the debate has gathered momentum thanks to the emergence of private sector alternatives such as the Facebook-led Libra project as well as the advancement of China's digital yuan efforts, which are already at the pilot stage.
In response, last week seven central banks - including the BoJ - published a report laying out the key requirements for creation of a CBDC.
Despite China's first mover status, Japan is taking a conservative approach to the issue, setting out three stages. Early next fiscal year it will develop a test environment for a CBDC system and conduct experiments on the basic core functions such as issuance, distribution and redemption.
Phase two will see the implementation of additional functions in the test environment, with technical experiments on specific functions required for CBDC.
Then, "if the Bank judges it necessary to step things up further" it will consider a pilot involving PSPs and end users.
The bank stresses that any CBDC would not be a replacement for cash. “We’re looking into CBDCs to enhance our settlement system, not to use it as a tool for monetary policy,” Kazushige Kamiyama, head, payments and settlement department, tells Reuters.
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