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Coronavirus gives digital currency a “sharper focus” and will accelerate digital transition, BIS official says

Sun, 26 Apr 2020, 05:32 am UTC

The coronavirus pandemic has helped speed up the transition to digital currency.

On April 17, Benoît Cœuré, head of the Bank of International Settlements (BIS) Innovation Hub, attended a webinar hosted by Accenture, the Chamber of Digital Commerce and the ReReinventing Bretton Woods Committee. At the time, he touched two areas – resilience and technology. He also commented about the central bank digital currency (CBDC), The Block reported.

In his commentary, Cœuré said that the COVID-19 pandemic has exposed the value of the technologies, especially which of those enable to operate the economy at arm’s length and partially overcome social distancing. He went on and said that the drastic changes in work and consumption patterns will have a lasting impact on economic relationships.

“The current discussion on central bank digital currency also comes into sharper focus. Whether COVID-19 will accelerate the demise of cash is an open question. But already, it highlights the value of having access to diverse means of payments, and the need for any means of payments to be resilient against a broad range of threats,” he continued.

“COVID-19 will accelerate the digital transition beyond payments.”

The BIS bulletin announced earlier that there is a shift in payment habits amid the coronavirus fears due to concerns about spreading the virus via cash which spurs the demand for digital payment methods like CBDC.

“In the context of the current crisis, CBDC would in particular have to be designed allowing for access options for the unbanked and (contact-free) technical interfaces suitable for the whole population,” the notice reads.

“The pandemic may hence put calls for CBDCs into sharper focus, highlighting the value of having access to diverse means of payments, and the need for any means of payments to be resilient against a broad range of threats,” it concluded.

Meanwhile, the National Payment Corporation of India (NCPI) urged the citizens to use digital payments to reduce social contact and curb the spread of coronavirus. NCPI and the state government are working together to ensure that more vendors, especially those selling essential services, are on the digital platforms.

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