The Swiss National Bank (SNB), the Bank for International Settlements (BIS) and SIX have carried out a proof-of-concept experiment that integrates tokenised digital assets and central bank money.
Project Helvetia - part of a partnerships between SNB and the BIS Innovation Hub - explored the technological and legal feasibility of transferring digital assets through issuing a wholesale CBDC onto a distributed digital asset platform as well as linking the platform to the existing wholesale payment system.
The PoC "demonstrated the feasibility and legal robustness of both alternatives in a near-live setup," say the partners.
However, while a wholesale CBDC has potential advantages when settling digital assets, it would raise "major policy and governance hurdles". Meanwhile, linking existing systems to new DLT platforms would avoid many of these problems, but would forgo the potential benefits of full integration.
The partners say that they now need to do more work to get a better understanding of the practical complexities and policy implications of wholesale CBDC.
“Irrespective of which technologies the financial markets adopt next, the safety and reliability of Swiss financial infrastructure must be preserved. If DLT can deliver significant improvements in securities trading and settlement, then the SNB will be prepared,” says Andréa M Maechler, member, governing board, SNB.
Nevertheless, a statement stresses, the experiments "should not be interpreted as an indication that the SNB is to issue wholesale CBDCs onto SIX Digital Exchange’s platform or to allow settlement of SDX transactions in the Swiss Interbank Clearing system".