The Swiss National Bank (SNB) has joined forces with six leading commercial banks and the SIX Swiss Exchange to launch the Helvetia Phase III project. This initiative marks a significant step in the exploration of wholesale Central Bank Digital Currencies(CBDCs) within the nation, officially referred to as the Swiss Franc wCBDC.

Testing the Waters

Notably, the Helvetia Phase III project is set to rigorously examine the effectiveness of a Swiss Franc wCBDC in settling digital securities transactions. The pilot aims to push the boundaries of CBDC implementation. This is building upon the insights gained from the initial two phases, conducted by the BIS Innovation Hub, SNB, and SIX.

Participating banks in this pioneering venture include Banque Cantonale Vaudoise, Basler Kantonalbank, Commerzbank, Hypothekarbank Lenzburg, UBS, and Zürcher Kantonalbank. Moreover, these banks are already members of SIX Digital Exchange (SDX). They will further leverage the infrastructure of Swiss Interbank Clearing to host the Swiss wCBDC pilot.

Seamless Integration and Pilot Objectives

Notably, SDX, a key player in the digital exchange realm, will be the host platform for the Swiss wCBDC pilot. Utilizing the infrastructure of Swiss Interbank Clearing, this collaboration is further set to redefine the landscape of digital securities transactions. The pilot is scheduled to run from December 2023 to June 2024.

Also, the primary objective of this pilot is to subject the settlement of primary and secondary market transactions in wCBDC to the rigors of a live production environment. During the specified timeframe, participating banks will issue digital Swiss franc bonds, settling them against wCBDC on a delivery-versus-payment basis.

All transactions within this test environment will be collateralized by digital bonds and settled on SDX in wCBDC.

Global Perspectives

Furthermore, as this groundbreaking pilot unfolds, it aligns with the broader context of international collaboration. The Swiss Financial Market Supervisory Authority, together with counterparts from Japan and the UK, has also partnered with the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) to explore various crypto pilot initiatives.

Notably, these initiatives span fixed income, foreign exchange, and asset management products. Further, they emphasize the growing need for cross-border collaboration among policymakers and regulators.

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