Getting the design of a digital pound right is a bigger priority than a rapid launch, Britain’s Financial Services Minister Andrew Griffith said on Tuesday.
China has pushed ahead with piloting a digital yuan and the European Central Bank is studying a digital euro, piling pressure on Britain to do the same and keep abreast of advances in financial technology.
The finance ministry is due to launch in the coming weeks a public consultation on the attributes of a digital pound.
“The consultation is going to say this is an if and not a when. We are not fully into the inevitability of doing this,” Griffith told the UK parliament’s Treasury Select Committee.
A digital pound raised many public policy issues, he said.
“We have got to get them right. I would rather be right than be first,” Griffith said. “It will be a long lead-time activity.”
The first case use of a digital pound would probably be in the settlement of wholesale financial transactions, he added.
But given public policy considerations for a digital currency, a wholesale, private fiat-backed stablecoin would probably get there first, Griffith said.
The European Union is also due to publish a draft law this year to legally set up and regulate a digital euro.
Griffith said there will also be a public consultation in coming weeks on Britain’s first general regulatory approach to crypto assets, a sector where consumer protection has come under scrutiny in recent weeks.