UK chancellor Rishi Sunak has taken to Twitter and LinkedIn to clear up misconceptions about the Bank of England's work on a future digital currency.
Sunak is keen to dispel the idea that any future Britcoin would replace cash. "There’s been some coverage over the weekend about the UK’s plan for a digital currency, so I thought I would take a moment to explain exactly what we’re doing to ensure we remain at the cutting edge of technology while also protecting access to cash," Sunak writes in his post.
Earlier in the Spring the UK Treasury launched a joint taskforce with the Bank of England to explore the case for introducing a Central Bank Digital Currency in the UK.
In June, Bank of England governor Andrew Bailey expressed his enthusiasm for the project: “I'm very encouraged by progress on that [CBDC] front and the fact that we are getting to grips with this critical innovation. If this comes to pass, it will be one of the most fundamental innovations in the history of central banking, it will move us into a new era."
Importantly, stresses Sunak: "We have not yet made a decision on whether to introduce a CBDC in the UK. But just as importantly, any potential UK CBDC would exist as a complement to cash and bank deposits, and not a replacement."
Sunak points out the UK Government has already legislated to make it easier for businesses of all sizes to offer cashback without a purchase to support a cash network under stress from the closure of bank branches and free-to-use ATMs. The Government is also consulting on proposals for new laws to make sure people only need to travel a reasonable distance to pay in or take out cash.
Says Sunak: "So by supporting innovation and technology, while also ensuring continued access to cash, we are making sure we have a sustainable and innovative payments landscape for decades to come."