SIX, Swiss National Bank, and six commercial banks pioneer a wCBDC pilot, redefining digital finance for institutions.

A pilot project focusing on tokenized central bank money for financial institutions—also known as wholesale central bank digital currency (wCBDC)—has been launched by SIX, the Swiss National Bank (SNB), and six commercial banks.


Phase III of Helvetia: Settlements in Swiss Franc with wCBDC

The Helvetia Phase III effort is the first attempt to arrange actual Swiss Franc wCBDC for the settlement of digital securities transactions. The SIX Digital Exchange (SDX), a ground-breaking fully regulated financial market infrastructure for digital assets built on Distributed Ledger Technology (DLT), will host the pilot on its digital asset platform.

Furthermore building on the knowledge and advancements gained in previous iterations of Project Helvetia, which is headed by the BIS Innovation Hub, the Swiss National Bank, and the financial infrastructure operator SIX, is Helvetia Phase III.

Several financial organisations, including current SDX member banks Banque Cantonale Vaudoise, Basler Kantonalbank, Commerzbank, Hypothekarbank Lenzburg, UBS, and Zürcher Kantonalbank, are involved in this joint venture.

The initiative makes use of the infrastructure of SIX-operated Swiss Interbank Clearing SIC and SIX SIS, the national Central Securities Depository for the Swiss financial market as well as an International Central Securities Depository, in addition to the SDX platform.

Timeline of the Pilot Programme: December 2023–June 2024

It is anticipated that the pilot programme will commence in December 2023 and continue until June 2024. The primary objective of this project is to assess the settlement of main and secondary market transactions in wCBDC in the context of a live production environment. Participating financial institutions will have the ability to issue digital Swiss franc bonds, which will then be settled using wCBDC on a delivery-versus-payment basis.

Jos Dijsselhof, CEO of SIX, stated that Switzerland is at the forefront of digital financial innovation. “Switzerland is at the forefront of digital financial innovation,” SIX, the Swiss National Bank, and six commercial banks have collaborated on a pilot project to test tokenized central bank money. Moreover this ground-breaking action is the result of this revolutionary cooperation. It is evidence of our commitment to the growth of digital finance and showcases the potential for DLT to totally transform the financial sector.

Project Helvetia Phase III will be responsible for handling the settlement of repo transactions. These transactions will have been initiated on the CO:RE trading platform of SIX Repo and will have been managed by the SIX SIS Triparty Agent. Finally these transactions in the test environment will be resolved on the SDX in the wCBDC, and they will be secured by digital bonds that are eligible for use in SNB repo operations.

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