Israel Central Bank Says Digital Shekel Launch an 'Open Question'

Israel's central bank is pushing forward with plans to issue a digital shekel, citing the need to improve the country's payment systems, but on Tuesday remained noncommittal on whether one would be launched, Reuters reported. The Bank of Israel in November 2021 stepped up its research and preparation for the possible issuance of a digital shekel to create a more efficient payments system after first considering issuing a central bank digital currency (CBDC) in late 2017. "Whether or not we will issue a digital shekel is still an open question, as it is in most if not all other advanced economies," Bank of Israel Governor Amir Yaron said at a conference on digital currencies. "Either way, we remain committed to be at the frontier, and more than that, to support the effort of pushing the frontier, in our CBDC explorations, as well as in our efforts to modernize and advance our payment systems ... and the financial system in general," Yaron said. Israel's central bank has been experimenting with a digital shekel with its Hong Kong counterpart and the Bank for International Settlements. It said the so-called Sela project has proven the feasibility of a retail CBDC and "combines accessibility, competition and preventative cyber security, while retaining key advantages of physical cash." Read more.