OTTAWA -- A senior official at the Bank of Canada says central banks should have their own digital currency ready as an alternative if they decide to say no to one being developed by Facebook.

The social media giant has spent the last 16 months or so developing a digital currency it calls Libra.

Bank of Canada deputy governor Timothy Lane says Facebook's foray into the digital currency market could help marginalized populations become part of the global economy and improve cross-border payments.

If regulators decide to block Libra's use in a given country, Lane says a central bank should have its own digital currency ready for people to use.

The Bank of Canada has been developing its own digital currency at what Lane describes as "a good pace."

Lane made the comments today during an online panel discussion hosted by the Central Bank Payments Conference.