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Digital cash: Your questions answered

Get answers to common questions you may have about digital cash.

What is digital cash?

Digital cash would be a new type of money in addition to banknotes and coins, and the electronic money in your bank account. It would be the first digital form of New Zealand currency issued and backed by the government, and available to the public. It is also called a central bank digital currency or CBDC.

Common questions

Digitalisation is changing the way we pay.

Digital cash would be an electronic form of cash. It would give you the option to use central bank money in a digital format, as well as cash in banknotes and coins.

We think digital cash will help maintain trust in our money and encourage innovation in how we pay for things. We are planning for a future in New Zealand that has less cash, but not one that is cash-less.  

No. At the Reserve Bank of New Zealand Te Pūtea Matua, we're committed to making cash available in forms that New Zealanders want to use. Physical cash in banknotes and coins will still be available, so you would have the option to use either.  

Just like physical cash, digital cash will be denominated in New Zealand dollars and issued by us. You could swap your digital cash 1:1 with physical cash, and other forms of NZD, like the electronic money in your bank account. 

If we decide to introduce digital cash, we expect it would be available from 2030.

See our timeline showing where we're at in the process 

We're committed to continuing to make cash available in forms that New Zealanders want to use. We are planning for a future that has less cash, but not one that is cash-less.

We have a big focus on the cash system.

Cash system redesign

Apply for our cash trials

What would I be able to use digital cash for?

If we introduce digital cash, you could use it the same way you use money today, like sending money to whānau or friends or buying goods in shops or online. You could use digital cash to pay for things, instantly, anytime, anywhere in New Zealand. You could even use it when the power is out, or the internet is down.

It would be a universally accepted digital form of payment.  

Read more about how you could use digital cash in the future

Common questions

We know that many people are concerned about the costs of making digital payments.

We are at the early stage of designing digital cash and we want you to tell us what you think – would fees or costs be a concern to you?  

Give us your feedback

We understand the challenges people face with some of the high costs around payments today. One of our aims with digital cash is to try and help reduce the cost of payments to New Zealanders.

We are still deciding what fees will be charged to consumers for using digital cash. This is something we want your feedback on through this consultation.  

Give us your feedback

Today, New Zealanders still can't make instant payments electronically to other people, unless they are both with the same bank.

With digital cash, you could make payments instantly. For example, if you wanted to pay back a friend for something they had bought you, you could hold your phones together to transfer the money straight away. Instant payments also potentially support small businesses that are reliant on cash flow. 

We want to enable a system where innovation and programmability is possible. For example, you'll be able to to set up an automatic monthly payment to instantly transfer digital cash to family members or friends or pay your rent or mortgage.

The Reserve Bank of New Zealand will not programme digital cash. 

Will the government be able to see and control how I spend my digital cash?

We know some people may be worried about how private digital cash would be.  Privacy will be built into the design of digital cash. The Reserve Bank of New Zealand, or the Government would not be able to see your transactions or be able to identify who you are. New Zealand’s Privacy Act and legal checks and balances would apply to digital cash. Any government agency that needed to view your data would need legal authority or permission to do so, just as they do today.

If we decide to move forward with digital cash, we expect to work with Parliament on laws to make sure digital cash and the data it generates is used in the way that reflects the values and aspirations of Aotearoa New Zealand.

Common questions

Digital cash will be designed with robust privacy protections.

We intend to explore approaches that build on privacy protections used with private bank accounts today. Privacy protections could be through legislation or technology while making sure we comply with things like anti-money laundering regulations.  

One of our 6 design principles for digital cash is ‘privacy centric’.

We believe that digital cash needs to protect privacy more than is currently required under the Privacy Act. We won't collect any of your personal data and we will design digital cash so that you have control over your own data, consistent with the Consumer Product Bill currently before Parliament

We'll continue to meet anti-money laundering obligations as we do today.

We're responsible for making sure the financial institutions we regulate and supervise meet their obligations under the Anti-Money Laundering and Countering Financing of Terrorism Act 2009.

Find out more about our obligations under the AML/CFT Act

How will you make sure that digital cash is inclusive?

One of our 6 principles for digital cash is ‘universal’. To be universal, it must be accessible. Digital cash has the potential to support inclusion as it is not profit driven and you won’t need a bank account to access it.

We are prioritising accessibility when designing digital cash. We're starting by producing alternate formats of the consultation documents so disabled people can participate in this consultation. These will be available in late May 2024.  

Common questions

Yes. You won't need a bank account, but you will need a third-party service provider to access your digital cash. This could be through a bank.

You'll also need a payment mechanism like a digital wallet, phone or device app or a physical card to buy things.  

We don't have a view on how many people should use it. We would like people to use it if they see it's necessary.

For us, it's important that digital cash is an option for people to use alongside other payment options, that people have choice, that it encourages innovation, supports competition and better services for all New Zealanders.  

No. The Reserve Bank of New Zealand isn't introducing a social credit system. Protecting privacy and autonomy is a key focus of our work.

New Zealand has a robust framework of institutional safeguards – like privacy laws, the independence of the Reserve bank, and Parliamentary Oversight – that reinforce this protection. Ultimately the safeguard is the democratic process itself, and we don't think the design of a central bank digital currency can be a substitute for it.