Central Banks Worldwide Testing Their Own Digital Currencies
Central banks worldwide are examining the possibility of issuing a central bank digital currency (CBDC), with some already testing theirs for different uses. Countries that have advanced their digital currency projects include China, Singapore, Canada, the Bahamas, Thailand, Uruguay, and Sweden. India has also included the digital rupee in the country’s draft cryptocurrency bill.
China’s CBDC Is ‘Almost Ready’
The most recent country to claim that its CBDC is near completion is China. According to media reports, The People’s Bank of China (PBOC) is “almost ready” to issue the country’s own sovereign digital currency. This was revealed at a forum held in the northern Chinese province of Heilongjiang on Aug. 10 by Mu Changchun, deputy director of the PBOC’s payments department.
He explained that the CBDC will use a two-tier system where both the central bank and financial institutions will be legitimate issuers, Reuters conveyed, noting that “the digital currency would not solely rely on blockchain technology as current blockchain technology would not be able to handle transaction volumes in China.” The publication added that the PBOC started researching the possibility of launching its own CBDC in 2014 with the aim “to cut the costs of circulating traditional paper money and boost policymakers’ control of money supply.”
Trial Between Singapore and Canada
The Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) and the Bank of Canada have jointly conducted an experiment on cross-border and cross-currency payments using CBDCs. The two central banks linked up their respective experimental domestic payment networks — Project Jasper and Project Ubin — built on two different distributed ledger technology (DLT) platforms, the MAS described in May. The trial was carried out in partnership with Accenture and J.P. Morgan. The former supported the development of the Canadian network on Corda, while the latter supported the Singapore network on Quorum.
“Cross-border payments today are often slow and costly,” the MAS remarked, emphasizing that they rely on a correspondent banking network “subject to counterparty risk, inefficient liquidity management, and cumbersome reconciliation.” The two central banks, therefore, collaborated to use CBDCs “to make the cross-border payment process cheaper, faster, and safer.” The MAS elaborated:
This is the first such trial between two central banks, and has great potential to increase efficiencies and reduce risks for cross-border payments.
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