Official: Israel Held A Test Run For A Digital Shekel

Official: Israel Held A Test Run For A Digital Shekel

June 21, 2021 at 09:04PM

Bank of Israel Deputy Governor Andrew Abir said at an event that the country held an experimental run of a so-called digital shekel token, The Jerusalem Post reported.

The official said near the conclusion of a panel that the central bank had conducted a cryptocurrency pilot. Someone else on the panel didn’t seem to be expecting the news and inquired, “You have already issued a coin?” Abir replied “in the affirmative,” in the words of the Post.

The idea of issuing that kind of a currency had been talked about for a couple of years. But the bank opted to speed up its exploration into a possible insurance, and the work to get ready for one “in view of the rapid developments in the digital economy and in payments, and in view of the major central banks’ work on the issue,” the Post reported.

But Abir cautioned that the rollout of such a central bank digital currency (CBDC) is far from a certainty, per the Post.

“I had previously estimated that the chance of having a CBDC within five years is 20 percent,” Abir noted, according to the Post. “My estimate has increased a bit in the last year, mainly because other countries are advancing with it too. But still there is less than a 50 percent chance.”

As PYMNTS previously reported, China still has the lead in planning and implementing CBDCs, while other countries are in different stages of talks and building. However, at least some nations are in no rush to get these digital currencies into the field.

For instance, the Taiwanese central bank has pointed out that its own iteration of a digital fiat, called “govcoin,” as one news outlet reported, is an eventuality, but is not yet ready to be launched — and there isn’t a timetable in place.

‘There is no point in rushing to launch the country’s own digital currency if it won’t make a better financial system [or make] our life easier,” Taiwan Central Bank Governor Yang Chin-long said, per a published report.