Citi survey of global securities firms

Discussions around shortening local financial settlement cycles within the next five years have most securities firms eyeing central bank digital currencies (CBDCs). 

Banking giant Citi’s latest edition of its Securities Services Evolution white paper highlighted India’s recent move to T+1 settlements, which ensures all trade-related settlements conclude within 24 hours of a transaction. As the United States, Canada and other leading economies step up efforts to transition to T+1 settlement cycles, the Citi survey gauges the importance of distributed ledger technology (DLT), CBDCs and stablecoins in expediting this transition.

Global economies transitioning to faster settlement times. Source: Citi

Of the 483 survey respondents and 12 financial markets infrastructures (FMIs), 87% see CBDCs as a viable option for shorter settlement cycles by 2026. The support for CBDCs jumped by 21% among securities firms year-on-year.

Expected form of digital money to be used to support securities settlements. Source: Citibank

The year-on-year growing support for digital cash is supported by domestic pilots and cross-border initiatives. The Citibank report read:

“Recent crossborder multi-bank experiments are now providing detailed insights into how central bank funding can be operationalized in a digital context, both internally and across entire markets.”

However, over the next years, some of the major roadblocks to widespread adoption of digital assets include regulatory uncertainties, limited knowledge, backward compatibility with traditional financial systems and blockchain interoperabilities, among others, as listed below.

Top impediment to the widespread use of digital assets in the next three years. Source: Citibank

Out of the various financial institutions, institutional investors, banks and asset managers have the greatest ability to scale and deliver market-wide solutions, a crucial determinant to the widespread adoption of CBDCs, stablecoins and other centrally governable financial instruments.

In the coming five years, by 2028, financial aspirations will move beyond T+1, envisions Citibank’s report. Some anticipated changes will include the mainstreaming of DLTs, shorter settlement cycles, digital cash-focused funding mechanisms and removal of core banking systems.

Related: Canadians have ‘weak incentives’ to use a CBDC: Bank of Canada

Just a month after India pitched the idea of conducting cross-border payments using its CBDC to 18 central banks, the Reserve Bank of Australia completed its in-house CBDC pilot.

The Australian central bank believes that a CBDC may support financial innovation in areas such as debt securities markets, could promote innovation in emerging private digital money sectors and enhance resilience and inclusion within the wider digital economy.

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