The Bank of Canada has launched a public consultation on what a digital version of the dollar could look like.

The central bank said Monday it hopes to get opinions on things such as how people would use a digital dollar, concerns around privacy and what security features would be necessary.

“As Canada’s central bank, we want to make sure everyone can always take part in our country’s economy. That means being ready for whatever the future holds,” Senior Deputy Governor Carolyn Rogers said in a statement.

Currently, the Bank of Canada says there isn't a need for a digital dollar, nor has it been tasked with creating one by the federal government. However, the bank says if one is deemed necessary in the future, it wants to be prepared with a design that would benefit Canadians.

In a video posted to YouTube, the bank said the digital dollar wouldn't replace physical cash, but would be a digital equivalent and carry the same value.
It could theoretically be used to buy everyday items and work similar to a bank card. In the video, the central bank explained that the digital currency could still be used in the event of an internet or similar outage.

“We want to hear from Canadians about what they value most in the design of a digital dollar This will help us make design choices and ensure that it is secure, reliable and meets the needs of Canadians,” Rogers said.

Physical cash may not be going anywhere any time soon, but it certainly isn't the king of currency like it once was, at least here in Canada. Last week the central bank released new data on how Canadians are making purchases.

Cash purchases fell by 22 per cent in 2021, an 11 per cent decrease from 2017. However, the report noted that the share of dollar value was stable, noting that "Canadians have been using cash less often, but for larger transactions."

The bank did say that the COVID-19 pandemic likely affected the decline as fewer in-person purchases were made due to restrictions.

The central bank also said that more people are making payments using debit and credit card methods, with tap-and-go making up most of those purchases.

The bank is expected to release a report on its findings from the consultation later this year.