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OTTAWA — Pandemic-related shifts in how people shop, sending more people into cyberspace than a physical space, means central banks must speed up work on creating their own digital currencies, says a top Bank of Canada official.

COVID-19 has meant more people are shopping online, and foot traffic for brick-and-mortar storefronts hasn’t caught up to pre-pandemic levels for many small and medium-sized businesses.

Bank of Canada deputy governor Timothy Lane said that shift in spending habits coupled with the speed of technological developments has narrowed the window to deliver a digital currency issued by the central bank.

“This is all looking a lot more urgent because of the speed with which technology is evolving and particularly, I think, with COVID we’ve seen an acceleration of the shift of activities online,” Lane said during the webinar.

“That suggests that if we want to be ready to develop any kind of digital central bank product, we need to move faster than we thought was going to be necessary.”

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