Germany’s central bank has published a new research paper centered on distributed ledger tech (DLT), exploring its use for payments, securities settlement and more.
Researchers from the Deutsche Bundesbank wrote in the paper that the tech “offers a number of benefits on account of the distributed storage of data” – highlighting both the potential opportunities as well as some of the practical challenges any application might create.
In an English-language explainer published alongside the paper (the original version is in German only), the German central bank noted that it doesn’t see much of a role for the tech in consumer payments, arguing:
“The Bundesbank’s experts see little prospect of DLT being put to widespread use in the field of individual and retail payments given the current state of the art. Particularly for payments within the euro area, they argue, the systems in operation have already been optimised for fast transfers and require a minimum of reconciliation, besides being able to process millions of transactions with ease every day.”
That said, the Bundesbank’s researchers went on to say that they see a potentially wider role in instances in which users have to send their funds through multiple intermediaries.
“International payments are very frequently settled via correspondent banking networks – where one bank has a business relationship with another credit institution operating inside the currency area with which it intends to settle payments,” the researchers wrote. “For payments like this, DLT could streamline a number of process steps and offer faster and cheaper settlement for end users.”
The central bank strikes a more cautious note about applications in the area of securities settlement. This is notable, given that the Bundesbank had previously undertaken a blockchain-based securities trading trial with exchange operator Deutsche Börse.
According to the central bank, it is “still unclear whether DLT also has the edge over today’s technology in terms of security, efficiency, costs and speed.”