What is a digital Canadian dollar?
Simply put, a digital Canadian dollar would be a digital form of the cash in your wallet. Like cash, it could buy the things you need. But the advantage is that you could also use it for online purchases and to transfer money between family and friends. And businesses could use it to pay each other.
This new form of money would be issued by the Bank of Canada and provide benefits similar to cash: it would be safe, accessible to everyone and private.
However, a digital Canadian dollar would not replace cash—we will continue to supply bank notes as long as Canadians want to use them.
We don’t see a need for a digital dollar right now. But Canada may need one in the future, so we need to get ready.
Different from cryptocurrencies
A digital Canadian dollar would not be a cryptocurrency, also known as a cryptoasset or private digital currency. The value of cryptocurrencies—like Bitcoin—goes up and down quickly and often relative to the Canadian dollar. These currencies can have expensive transaction fees, take a long time to process and allow for limited recourse if things go wrong. That’s why cryptocurrencies are generally used as an investment rather than for everyday spending.
In contrast, a digital Canadian dollar’s value would not change because it’s simply another form of the current Canadian dollar, and it would be backed by the central bank in the same manner as cash. That means $10 in digital Canadian dollars would always have the same value as a $10 bank note. Our goal is to design a digital Canadian dollar that would be fast and low cost to use, just like cash is now.
Why we’re researching a digital Canadian dollar
As Canada’s central bank, we have a responsibility to ensure everyone always has the opportunity to take part in the economy. And we need to prepare for whatever the future holds. That’s why we—like many other central banks around the world—are exploring the possibility of issuing a digital version of our national currency.
Ultimately, Parliament and the Government of Canada will determine if or when to issue a digital Canadian dollar.
The Bank of Canada supplies bank notes to Canadians and makes sure people are confident in the Canadian dollar. Anyone can use cash, including people who don’t have a bank account, a credit score or official identification documents.
However, people tend to use cash less often these days: most payments are already digital, such as using debit or credit cards. If this trend continues, there may come a time when cash is not widely accepted in day-to-day transactions, which could exclude many Canadians from the economy.
Protecting our economy and financial system
It’s also possible that, in the future, cryptocurrencies or CBDCs issued by foreign countries could be widely used in Canada. This could compromise the central role of the Canadian dollar in our economy and affect the stability of our financial system.
A digital Canadian dollar could help protect our economy by ensuring Canadians always have an official, safe and stable digital payment option in the Canadian dollar. And only a central bank can guarantee that public interest—not profit—is the top priority.
A digital dollar would complement cash, not replace it. Bank notes will continue to be available to Canadians even if we introduce a digital currency. So people who prefer cash can continue to use it.
How you can get involved
We want to hear from you. Your input will help us make decisions about the design of a digital Canadian dollar.
We held a public consultation on a digital dollar from May 8 to June 19, 2023. Our goal was to start a conversation with Canadians on this topic. We asked what features would matter most to you and how a digital dollar could serve your needs in the future. Over 85,000 Canadians participated.
Now that the public consultation is over, we will:
- share this feedback with researchers, technology specialists and senior decision-makers so they can consider it when making policy and design decisions
- publish a report later this year that summarizes what we heard
You'll have many opportunities to join the conversation about a digital Canadian dollar. We’ll continue to listen to you as our work progresses.
In the meantime, for the latest updates, follow us on social media. And watch this space for reports on our consultations as they become available.