Most Canadians are ready to embrace CBDC when it’s implemented. Still, over a third of the surveyed expressed concerns about the lack of anonymity and surveillance risks, including transaction tracking.
In May, the Bank of Canada launched an online consultation on the Canadian digital dollar to probe the public’s mood about CBDC and discuss possible features to include in the e-currency. The survey, which ran until June 19, asked citizens a range of questions related to their day-to-day purchasing activity and financial preferences. It also aimed to examine the level of trust they put in the government and institutions.
According to the results provided by WealthRocket.com, most Canadians are ready to embrace central bank-issued digital money as soon as it becomes available. As many as 59% of the responders said they are willing to use CBDC when it becomes available, with 43% “somewhat willing,” 11% “very willing,” and 5% “extremely willing.”
Despite widespread controversies around the central bank digital currency concept, only 25% of the surveyees declared themselves unwilling to use the digital Canadian dollar. The remaining 16% admitted to not understanding enough about CBDC to decide.
On the other hand, Canadians are aware of the risk of cash being phased out. 45% of them admitted to such concerns related to the expected CBDC rollout. Currently, no clear deadline has been set for the introduction of the digital dollar in Canada, but digital payments have long been on the rise, and cash transactions are in decline.
According to WealthRocket, cash transaction volume fell by 62% in 2016–2021, from 5,369 million to 2,038 million and 27% to 10% in terms of total transaction volume. In the same period, online transfers skyrocketed by 469% from 177 million to 1,007 million. In 2021, the most popular payment method was credit card (6,572 million transactions, 33% of the total volume), followed by debit card (5,964 million transactions, 30% of the total volume).
Canadians display a relatively high level of trust in central institutions. 51% of the respondents are somewhat confident that the Bank of Canada will safeguard their privacy when digital currency is introduced. Still, 35% of Canadian citizens express concerns about the lack of anonymity and surveillance risks in the CBDC reality, including transaction tracking.
“These concerns around privacy are incredibly valid. If we get it right, we could actually enhance privacy protections that we have in place today. But if we get it wrong, it could become a tool for intrusion and oversight,” said Jennifer Lassiter, the executive director of The Digital Dollar Project, a U.S.-based nonprofit engaged in CBDC research.