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A digital loonie can wait, Canadians tell Bank of Canada

Vast majority do not trust the Bank of Canada to issue a secure digital currency

The Bank of Canada’s public consultations on the creation of a digital Canadian dollar reveal most respondents are opposed to it.

The central bank released its findings Wednesday that show more than 80 per cent of respondents strongly opposed the Bank of Canada researching and building the capability to issue a digital dollar.

The vast majority of respondents also said they do not trust the Bank of Canada to issue a secure digital currency.

Among the top concerns was privacy, with many respondents valuing the anonymity associated with cash. Moreover, the questionnaire revealed low levels of trust in institutions to protect personal data.

The central bank says it will explore options for a digital dollar where identification is not necessary for basic transactions, as is the case with cash.

The Bank of Canada noted the findings do not necessarily reflect the views of the overall public because participants self-selected to respond to the questionnaire.

As more people go cashless, central banks around the world are researching the possibility of creating digital versions of currencies.

A digital currency would be different from cryptocurrencies because it would be backed by the central bank and its value wouldn’t change since it would be just another form of existing Canadian currency.

In 2020, the Bank of Canada announced that it would build a contingency plan for the creation of a digital currency, should the need for it ever arise.

While the public consultations aimed to gauge interest in a digital currency, the central bank said the decision to create a digital dollar is for Parliament to make.

“Our responsibility is to ensure the Canadian payments system is ready for the economy of the future,” Bank of Canada senior deputy governor Carolyn Rogers said in a statement.

“The way people pay for things and use money is changing. If Canadians decide a digital dollar is necessary, our obligation is to be ready.”

Conservative Leader Pierre Poilievre has vehemently opposed the creation of a digital currency, proposing last year to ban the Bank of Canada from creating one.

At the same time, he has previously promoted the use of cryptocurrencies and suggested it offered Canadians a way to opt out of inflation, though he has shifted away from the topic more recently.

The central bank also sought out the thoughts of other stakeholders on the creation of a digital currency, including the financial sector and civil society organizations.

Financial sector stakeholders said they wanted more information on how a digital currency would work to better understand the implications for their business models.

The central bank says a digital currency would not pay interest, in order to mitigate the potential risk that a digital dollar would replace commercial bank deposits.

The Bank of Canada’s engagement with civil society groups that advocate for Canadians with disabilities, consumers and low-income Canadians found these groups mainly supported a digital currency if its design would remove existing barriers.

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