UK’s CBDC Plans Progress Despite Significant Concerns

The United Kingdom is moving ahead with its roadmap for a central bank digital currency (CBDC) despite privacy concerns.

On Jan. 25, the U.K. government delivered the findings of its digital pound consultation paper laying out the potential risks that a retail CBDC might present.

The report said, “Trust is a prerequisite for a digital pound,” but acknowledged: “Many respondents expressed concerns that a digital pound could infringe on their rights. The Bank [of England] and HM Treasury recognise the strength of feeling on these matters and the need to build public trust in a digital pound.”

In an attempt to deal with those concerns and establish trust, the U.K. government is touting additional safeguards in creating and implementing its CBDC.

Firstly, a CBDC could only launch after legislation passed through both houses of U.K. parliament. Second, the Bank of England and the U.K. government would never access user data. Third, the bank would not make a digital pound programmable money. Finally, the government will safeguard cash.

These safeguards may offer comfort in the short term, but they could be eroded or removed over time.

With a U.K. election just around the corner, politicians from across the political divide are attempting to find the crypto policy sweet spot.

The Scottish National Party (SNP), the second-largest opposition party in the U.K. House of Commons and the governing party in Scotland, has concerns about what a central bank digital currency might mean for privacy and inclusion.

Cointelegraph spoke with SNP member of parliament (MP) and International Trade Spokesperson Richard Thomson, who said that any benefits of a CBDC cannot come at the expense of citizens’ rights.

“SNP MPs are clear that consumer protection must be at the heart of the U.K. Government’s regulatory approach to crypto assets,” said Thomson. “As a party, the SNP understands the potential benefits that a digital currency could have, including faster, cheaper and safer transfers. However, it is of paramount importance that any currency technology innovations should ensure human rights are protected prior to being introduced.”

Thomson stated that a digital pound is by no means a certainty at this stage, adding, “We are keeping a close eye on developments to ensure the potential impacts of introducing a CBDC are fully understood, and we will work to ensure a CBDC is designed in such a way that ensures citizen’s individual rights are protected.”


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