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Britcoin is moving closer to reality.
U.K. authorities said British businesses and consumers are likely to need a digital version of the pound, formally asking for public comment on the idea of introducing a central bank digital currency.
More than 80% of the world’s central banks are considering launching digital currencies or have already done so, according to the consultant PwC.
“While cash is here to stay, a digital pound issued and backed by the Bank of England could be a new way to pay that’s trusted, accessible and easy to use,” Treasury chief Jeremy Hunt said in a statement. “That’s why we want to investigate what is possible first, whilst always making sure we protect financial stability.”
The call for public input comes almost two years after the Treasury and Bank of England said they were considering introducing a digital currency.
While Prime Minister Rishi Sunak suggested naming the initiative “Britcoin” when he was Treasury chief, the Bank of England has stressed that the potential currency shouldn’t be confused with cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin.
Backed by the central bank, the new currency would be “reliable and retain its value over time,” in contrast to cryptocurrencies that can fluctuate wildly and threaten the holdings of investors, the Bank of England says on its website.
The proposed digital currency would be denominated in pounds, with 10 pounds of digital currency always equal to a 10-pound note, the bank said. Held in a digital wallet, the currency could be used to pay for goods and services electronically.
Supporters of central bank digital currencies say they make digital transactions easier and cheaper and expand access to the financial system because they can be used by people who don’t have bank accounts.
This article was provided by The Associated Press.