By Leika Kihara
NARA, Japan (Reuters) – Leaders of six major central banks undertaking joint research on digital currencies are considering holding their first meeting in mid-April in Washington, the Nikkei newspaper reported on Thursday.
A Bank of Japan executive said no timetable has been fixed for any meeting of the group, but said central banks must respond flexibly to rapid digitalization to stay relevant as issuers of money.
“In Japan, we don’t have any plans now to issue central bank digital currencies (CBDC),” BOJ board member Takako Masai told a news conference in Nara, western Japan, on Thursday.
“But we need to make an effort so we’re ready to respond, in case public demand for central bank digital currencies rise dramatically,” she said.
The central banks of Britain, the euro zone, Japan, Canada, Sweden and Switzerland announced a plan last month to share their findings to look at the case for issuing digital currencies, amid growing debate over the future of money.
The leaders of the six central banks and the Bank of International Settlements will meet in April to discuss ways to streamline cross-border settlement and security issues that need to be addressed if central banks issue digital currencies in the future, the paper said.
The six central banks plan to release an interim report in June and a final report around autumn, the Nikkei said without citing sources.
Central banks across the world have quickened the pace at which they are looking at issuing their own digital currencies, also known as CBDCs. Facebook’s push to launch its Libra cryptocurrency has raised questions over whether nation states will continue to control money in the decades ahead.
Of the major central banks, China’s has emerged as the frontrunner in the drive to create its own digitized money, though details of its project are still scarce.
The BOJ has undertaken a joint research project with the European Central Bank, but has said it has no plans to issue CBDCs in the near term.
(Reporting by Leika Kihara; Editing by Sam Holmes and Jacqueline Wong)