Canadians are overwhelmingly opposed to their central bank researching and issuing a digital loonie, according to newly released survey results from the Bank of Canada.
The report found that citizens and stakeholders are worried that the technology could violate their financial privacy, and wouldn’t be their payment method of choice compared to existing options.
Why Canadians Don’t Like CBDCs
Released on Wednesday, the report dissected results from a public consultation on CBDCs open to all Canadians between May 8 and June 19, 2023. It gathered 89,424 responses from Canadians of all provinces and income levels.
“A vast majority of respondents (85%) say that they would not use a digital Canadian dollar,” the report stated. An even greater majority of 92% said they’d prefer sticking to existing payment methods, like cash or cards.
The preference had little to do with crypto experience: while more likely than the average participant, only 14% of respondents who already hold cryptocurrencies said they’d prefer a digital dollar to alternative schemes.
Besides its perceived redundancy, 19% of respondents claimed that a CBDC would give the government “too much control.” Furthermore, 15% said that privacy would be jeopardized with its launch, while another 15% thought it would create a “loss of individual choice.”
In fact, most respondents expressed concerns that the government was attempting to phase out cash, with 86% calling for legislation to mandate merchants continue accepting cash as payment.
Though prior research from the Bank of Canada has shown cash use declining over time, physical currency remained a “prevailing method of payment” among respondents. Many said they prefer cash for its anonymity, safety, and acceptance.
No Trust in the Central Bank
Only 18% of those surveyed said they trusted the central bank to “follow a strict and transparent process” before accessing identity-related information on digital transactions. Trust in the government of Canada and financial institutions also remained low at 12% and 27% respectively.
Despite respondents’ reservations, 78% of them said they do not believe the Bank of Canada will consider public feedback as it develops a CBDC. That said, the central bank has responded to its consultation with new development goals aimed at addressing critics’ concerns.
“The Bank will examine options for a digital dollar that: would not require Canadians to have identification, a bank account or to disclose private information to anyone to perform basic financial transactions,” wrote the Bank of Canada on Wednesday.
Much like several Republican lawmakers in the United States, Canada’s Conservative Party leader has promised to ban CBDCs if elected as prime minister.