“Formal” digital cash: The currencies of the future?  

Held on Monday, June 19, 2017


  • Dave Birch (Consult Hyperion)

  • Ben Dyson (Bank of England)

  • Hugh Halford-Thompson (BTL Group) 



Lots of people get excited about digital currencies – though sometimes I wonder why. Most of their attention is focused on blockchain-based currencies like Bitcoin and Ethereum. But, however much they appeal to cyber-geeks, they remain a speculative and largely unregulated bet.

That doesn’t have to be the case, however. What if some central bank issued a digital coin that was as widely accepted as a bank note? Or, if not a central bank, what if a group of banks or payments operators issued a similar digital coin?

It is possible – and, indeed, the BoE has an ongoing research project into the area. There are big, currently unresolved issues around monetary policy, financial stability and the technology involved, but they are not insuperable – and there is clearly support for “formal” digital cash. Hence this round-table, at which our panellists will look at the pros and cons, and at where the debate currently stands:

  • Dave Birch (a former Payments Fellow here at the CSFI) is a co-founder and director of innovation at Consult Hyperion. He is a regular speaker and author on digital cash, with a new book coming out entitled Before Babylon, Beyond Bitcoin;
  • Ben Dyson is the lead economic researcher at the BoE on digital currencies. Before to joining the Bank, he was head of research for Positive Money, a think-tank dedicated to money (aren’t we all?);
  • Hugh Halford-Thompson is Chief Innovation Officer at BTL Group, a DLT business that has undertaken projects with VISA and BP. He is also a blockchain entrepreneur, and was one of the original founders of QuickBitcoin.

If you (or a colleague) would like to join the discussion, please call the office on 020 7621 1056 or email alex@csfi.org. Sandwiches, soft drink and wine will be provided.


Andrew Hilton