Canadians express skepticism over Central Bank’s Digital Currency plans

According to a recent survey conducted by the Bank of Canada, a significant portion of Canadians are reluctant to support the central bank’s exploration and potential issuance of a digital version of the Canadian dollar popularly known as the digital loonie.

The findings of the report indicate that both citizens and stakeholders harbor concerns about the technology potentially infringing upon their financial privacy. The report also reveals a prevailing sentiment that the proposed digital currency would not be their favored payment method when compared to existing alternatives.

The survey, opened to all Canadians between May 8 and June 19, 2023, garnered 89,424 responses, representing individuals across diverse provinces and income categories.

According to the survey, 85% of participants expressed a reluctance to adopt a digital Canadian dollar, with 92% indicating a preference for maintaining their current payment methods, such as cash or cards. Interestingly, even among individuals already engaged with cryptocurrencies, only 14% expressed a preference for a digital dollar over alternative systems.

Beyond worries about redundancy, 19% of those surveyed expressed the view that a central bank digital currency (CBDC) would confer excessive control to the government. Additionally, 15% voiced concerns about privacy being compromised upon its introduction, while another 15% believed it could lead to a reduction in individual choice. Notably, a substantial 86% of respondents advocated for legislation mandating merchants to uphold the acceptance of cash as a payment option.

Confidence in the central bank, the Canadian government, and financial institutions remained limited, with only 18%, 12%, and 27% of participants indicating trust in these entities, respectively. Despite these reservations, a significant 78% of respondents expressed skepticism, stating that they do not believe the Bank of Canada will take public feedback into account as it progresses with the development of a central bank digital currency (CBDC).

As a reaction to the consultation, the central bank has drafted fresh developmental objectives aimed at mitigating the concerns raised by critics. This includes exploring alternatives for a digital dollar that wouldn’t necessitate identification or the divulgence of private information for fundamental financial transactions. Furthermore, the leader of Canada’s Conservative Party has pledged to prohibit central bank digital currencies (CBDCs) if elected as the prime minister.