Poll shows Brits concerned over the prospect of a digital pound
The results of a recent survey undertaken by Redfield & Wilton Strategies on behalf of Politico suggest that a plurality of the British adult population hold visceral concerns surrounding a Bank of England (BOE)-issued central bank digital currency (CBDC).
The 2,500 British adults surveyed in the study in early August expressed doubts and concerns on the inherent societal benefits of the issuance of a CBDC by the Bank of England.
According to the data, 30% of participants believe that a “Britcoin” CBDC is “more likely to be harmful than beneficial to the UK,” with 24% believing that it could be beneficial, while the remaining participants at 46% were undecided.
A deeper analysis of the specific concerns regarding a digital currency revealed that 73% of participants would be “concerned about the threat of hacks and cyberattacks, 70% about users’ privacy, 62% about the government being able to seize their money, and 45% about the environmental impact.”
If this initiative crossed the hurdles to public adoption and was implemented country-wide, it would be the first time a digital currency has been issued by a central bank in the United Kingdom.
The U.K. has been exploring the concept of a CBDC for the last few years. In April, Her Majesty’s Treasury and the Bank of England collaborated to launch a preliminary task force designed to comprehend the “design, implementation and operation” challenges associated with a CBDC.
Tom Mutton, head of fintech at the BOE, is pioneering this charge to a CBDC future and recently shared his views on the benefits of implementation from “competition and diversity in payments, through to opportunities to promote financial inclusion and safeguard privacy.”
Back in June, Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak promised a “sweeping set of financial services reforms” over the next few years, with a CBDC at the top of the list of priorities.
In response to the Bank of England’s 2020 discussion paper on the prospect of a CBDC, respondents — who included tech and fintech firms, private individuals, payment firms and more — identified four key themes.
These were that the “use case” for a CBDC needs to be further developed and better articulated; the need for CBDC to support financial inclusion and protect privacy; the BOE’s design principles are comprehensive, but challenging to deliver; and functional capabilities were considered to be crucial, including offline payments.
From the discussion paper, Mutton concluded that there was “near universal agreement that the pros and cons needed to be studied in depth, broad engagement was needed as the evidence was assembled, and open consultation essential before reaching any conclusions.”