SNB and commercial banks launch pilot for real wholesale CBDC issuance

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SNB and commercial banks launch pilot for real wholesale CBDC issuance

The Swiss National Bank (SNB) and six commercial banks, including UBS and Commerzbank (ETR: CBKG ), are embarking on a pilot to issue 'real' wholesale central bank digital currency (CBDC) as part of Project Helvetia's third stage, beginning in December. This initiative, announced Tuesday, aims to explore the use of central bank money in a tokenized financial system by 2024.

The pilot, known as Helvetia Phase III, will see the banks act as intermediaries for issuers and investors on the SIX Digital Exchange (SDX)'s regulated DLT platform. The plan is to use real Swiss Franc wCBDC to settle digital bond transactions on a delivery-versus-payment basis from December 2023 to June 2024.

This stage of the project also involves testing one of three models SNB plans to examine for settling tokenized asset transactions. The SDX platform, SIX Interbank Clearing system, and SIX SIS (NS: SISI ) are being used for various services including issuance, trading, custody of digital securities, tokenization of central bank money, and integration with traditional bond settlement infrastructure.

The project also includes the use of the SIX Repo and SDX test systems for repo transactions with wholesale CBDC exploration. The Swiss Financial Innovation Desk supports these innovative efforts.

In a significant milestone for the project, Lugano's digital bond issuance was the first approved by SNB for its 'General Collateral Basket', marking its inclusion in the Swiss Bond Index. This development underscores the growing acceptance of digital bond issuances within traditional financial systems.

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