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The Guardian view on the digital pound: an impetuous idea with a risky momentum of its own | Editorial

A ‘Britcoin’ would trade convenience for societal dangers that hard cash keeps in check

Two years ago, the House of Lords looked into whether the Bank of England should issue digital pounds to be held in electronic wallets. Peers were unconvinced, asking if this wasn’t “a solution in search of a problem”. Last December, MPs on the Treasury select committee said the same thing. The government’s response, however, was to tell the public to prepare for a “Britcoin” to be in use by the end of the decade.

Physical money has been around for thousands of years for good reason. Cash is convenient, reliable and anonymous. It seems unlikely that these advantages could be replicated online. State-backed e-cash might look inevitable to officials who say money is already digital, pointing to cryptocurrencies and smartphone payments. But central bank digital currencies (CBDCs) are different. A Britcoin would shift the management burden from commercial banks to Threadneedle Street.

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