Facebook’s Libra ‘incredibly important catalytic event’ for reform, says Swedish central bank chief

Stefan Ingves, governor of the Riksbank, the central bank of Sweden, is one of the few officials optimistic about Facebook-led proposed stablecoin project, Libra.

“It has been an incredibly important catalytic event to sort of shake the tree when Libra showed up out of the blue,” Ingves told CNBC in an interview on Tuesday. The governor added that Libra “forced us to think hard about what we do.”

Ingves went on to say: “Part of my job is to produce a good/service called the Swedish krona which is convenient to use for Swedish citizens, and if I’m good at that in a technical sense then I don’t have a problem. But if I were to start issuing 20-kilo copper coins the way we did in 1668, then we soon would be out of business.”

The use of cash (banknotes and coins) is declining in Sweden. The Riksbank, therefore, has been exploring a digital currency called e-krona since 2017. But no decision has yet been taken on issuing an e-krona.

Switzerland’s central bank is also exploring a blockchain-based digital currency, while China's central bank digital currency is “ready” to launch later this year or early next year.