Sweden’s central bank completes first phase of digital currency pilot

After completing the first phase of its digital currency pilot project, Sveriges Riksbank has found some critical issues that must be addressed before Stockholmers can buy coffee and kanelbullar with e-krona.

In a recent study, Sweden’s central bank presented the first results of its central bank digital currency pilot on a network based on R3’s Corda blockchain.

The Riksbank simulated core aspects of a potential CBDC system, including liquidity supply via the Riksbank’s settlement system, RIX, and network members serving as e-kronor distributors. The central bank also simulated participants, end-users and payment instruments like mobile apps.

The Riksbank said that the new CBDC technology needs further investigation, with scalability presenting a major bottleneck.

“The solution tested in phase one of the e-krona pilot has met the performance requirements made in the public procurement. But this has taken place in a limited test environment and the new technology’s capacity to manage retail payments on a large scale needs to be investigated and tested further,” the report noted.

The central bank also noted some privacy challenges, stressing that the information contained in an e-krona transaction must be protected to uphold banking secrecy laws and avoid revealing personal data.

“The Riksbank is currently analysing to what extent the information stored in the transaction history can be regarded as information covered by banking secrecy and whether it comprises personal data,” the bank stated.

Mithra Sundberg, head of Riksbank’s e-krona pilot division in Stockholm, said that Sweden’s CBDC could probably require a new legal framework before it can be used. Given the scope of issues that need to be addressed before an e-krona can be seriously developed, Riksbank may continue its blockchain pilots until 2026.

Riksbank stated that it will extend its agreement with accounting giant Accenture as a technical supplier to continue e-krona testing. The focus for the second phase will include potential distributors of the e-krona, CBDC performance in retail payments, as well as storage methods. The new phase will also test offline e-krona functionality and integration with existing point-of-sale terminals.

As previously reported, Sweden has emerged as one of the world’s earliest CBDC explorers, announcing a pilot platform for the e-krona in late 2019.

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