Digital cash in New Zealand | Moni-matihiko

Closes 26 Jul 2024

Opened 17 Apr 2024

Overview

At the Reserve Bank - Te Pūtea Matua, we're looking at digital cash. It would be an electronic version of cash, issued by the Reserve Bank of New Zealand, but it would not replace cash.

We are in stage 2 of a multi-year, multi-stage process of considering digital cash. We've developed some principles and design options for New Zealand’s digital cash, and we want you to tell us if we have got it right and what it would mean for you. 

There are many details to work out before we can decide if digital cash is right for New Zealand, and we plan to consult again in the future on whether we should go ahead and issue digital cash. 

Get answers to common questions you may have about digital cash

Download the consultation paper and supporting documents

Download the digital cash consultation paper (PDF, 1.7MB)

The following documents expand on the information outlined in the digital cash consultation paper.

Consultation notes

Supporting reports 

Read the consultation summary

The way Kiwis pay for things is changing

We know that being able to use cash is still important for many New Zealanders. But we also know that the way people pay is changing, and our economy is becoming more digital. Digital payments make it easier and quicker to buy the things we want. To keep up with the changing times, we are looking at the possibility of issuing digital cash.

Digital cash is an extension of physical cash

Digital cash would be issued by the Reserve Bank of New Zealand, Te Pūtea Matua. It will give Kiwis the choice of using digital cash or using your regular bank accounts, cards, cash or however you make your payments.

Digital cash isn’t new. Every day, billions of dollars of New Zealand digital cash issued and backed by Te Pūtea Matua already flow between commercial banks and other big institutions on a super-resilient electronic platform we provide called the Exchange Settlement Account System.

Digital cash would give you more choice when making payments

It would mean everyone has access to central bank money - either as cash or in digital form. At the moment, cash is the only type of central bank money available to everyone.

We want the certainty and safety of using digital cash to be available to all New Zealanders and businesses alongside physical cash. Digital cash design should also carefully meet or balance different considerations if it’s to work for everyone.

Digital cash would be easy to access and use, and private

We want everyone to have access to digital cash, even if they don’t have a bank account. Like banknotes, you could use digital cash when the power is out, or the internet is down. If you want, you’ll be able to use a physical card to access your digital cash and on devices like your phone or watch. 

You would be able to use digital cash to buy things in shops, online, or send money to friends and family instantly. Similar to banknotes and coins, digital cash would work with current payment options and you can switch between the two.

It will also be private. The Reserve Bank will not be able to see or control how you spend your money.

Digital cash would support innovation and resilience

New technologies and new forms of electronic money are always emerging. These include:

Digital cash can take advantage of new innovation features like smart contracts. These allow you to automate a payment or do things like keeping totals of expenses. This gives you greater control over your money.

Digital cash could also boost competition in New Zealand’s payments landscape and introduce the possibility of new types of money and payments services. This is because digital cash services would be provided by the private sector. Kiwis will have the choice of who they use to access their digital cash services.

Trust in our currency is essential

As we, the Reserve Bank of New Zealand, would issue digital cash, you can trust that it'll be safe and secure. Other forms of digital money are issued by the private sector - they can pose a risk to New Zealand's financial system if something goes wrong.

Some other forms of digital money are not denominated in New Zealand dollars. If a lot of people use them, it can pose a risk to the New Zealand dollar and our monetary sovereignty and stability. But, digital cash that we issue will be government-backed and in New Zealand dollars, so you can continue to have confidence in our monetary system.

We're not the only central bank looking at the possibility of digital cash

Many other central banks around the world are exploring digital cash to support:

  • monetary and financial stability
  • social and financial inclusion
  • safe and efficient ways to pay with the decreased use and availability of cash.

Use the CBDC tracker to find out what other countries are doing
 

International survey on central bank digital currencies | BIS.org

Timeline of our consultation stages

We're in Stage 2 of our consultation phase.

  1. Stage 1 – Issues paper and first consultation

  2. Stage 2 - Design paper and second consultation

  3. Stage 3 and 4 – Will depend on the outcome of stage 2 and may include future consultations

What is digital cash?

 

 

Video transcript

Audio: The way New Zealanders pay for things is changing.

Visual: The words digital cash appear on screen.

Audio: Digital payments are becoming more popular and we're not using cash as much as we used to.

Visual: Coins falling out of a purse

Audio: We also have a lot more choice in how we pay.

Visual: Banknotes (cash) and cards appear on screen.

Audio: Sometimes we send money from one bank account to another

Visual: A woman sitting behind her laptop. Left and right arrows point to two buildings on either side.

Audio: or tap and pay with our card or phone.

Visual: A hand tapping a phone on an EFTPOS terminal.

Audio: To keep up with the changing times, we're looking at the possibility of issuing digital cash.

Visual: A circle with the word past interlocks with a square with the word future.

Audio: This would be a digital version of cash issued by us, the Reserve Bank of New Zealand - Te Pūtea Matua, but it wouldn't replace cash.

Visual: A round coin and a rectangular coin (representing digital cash) appear on screen.

Audio: Cash will still be available.

Visual: Banknotes, a stack of coins and a tick on appear on screen.

Audio: This makes it different from cryptocurrencies that are issued by private firms and not as stable.

Visual: A circle with a bitcoin symbol transitions to a dollar symbol.

Audio: We want everyone to have access to digital cash, even if you don't have a bank account.

Visual: A map of New Zealand appears on screen.

Audio: Like bank notes, you could use digital cash to make payments when the power

Visual: A circle with a cross transitions to a circle with a line through the middle and a fading lightning bolt in the background.

Audio: or internet is down

Visual: A computer with a smiley face changes to a sad face.

Audio: like in an emergency.

Visual: A cellphone with a large exclamation mark on its screen

Audio: If you want, you'll be able to use a physical card to access your digital cash.

Visual: A bank card with the digital cash symbol appears on screen.

Audio: and on devices like your phone

Visual: A hand tapping a cellphone with the digital cash symbol on its screen.

Audio: your watch,

Visual: A smartwatch with the digital cash symbol on its screen.

Audio: or through cards in a digital wallet.

Visual: A card wallet appears on screen.

Audio: These would be provided by a private company or your bank.

Visual: A building with the words AnyBank.

Audio: You'll be able to use your digital cash to buy things online, in shops

Visual: A shopping trolley full of food

Audio: pay bills 

Visual: A laptop screen with the words Pay Now on screen.

Audio: or send money to your friends and family/whānau in an instant.

Visual: Two cellphones tap each other. One cellphone has the digital cash symbol, the other has a heart.

Audio: Similar to bank notes and coins, digital cash would work

Visual: A heart with the digital cash symbol appears on screen.

Audio: with current payment options and you can switch between the two.

Visual: The heart expands to reveal banknotes, coins, digital cash and bank cards.

Audio: Your transactions will be private, meaning we won't be able to see how you spend your money or control where you spend your money.

Visual: A shield with a thumb print appears on screen.

Audio: Just like the money you use today, you can trust that digital cash will be safe and secure.

Visual: A shield with the digital cash symbol appears on screen.

Audio: We’ll protect your digital cash from any cyber attacks, theft or fraud.

Visual: Four pins, one in each corner, move towards the shield.

Audio: We haven't made a decision if we'll introduce digital cash. We're still exploring the possibilities of how it might work, and we want your feedback on the features that are important to you.

Visual: Bubbles with a question mark symbol appear on screen. This transitions to a magnifying glass with a question mark, and then a speech bubble with a question mark.

Audio: Please visit our website to learn more and have your say.

Visual: Words on screen say rbnz.govt.nz/digitalcash. This transitions to a pink end screen with Reserve Bank of New Zealand -  Te Pūtea Matua.

Survey accessibility

We're developing alternate formats for our digital cash consultation paper. These will be available in late June.

If you can't complete the online survey, you can post your feedback to: Future of Money, Reserve Bank of New Zealand, 2 The Terrace, Wellington.