Bahamas Central Bank Confirms CBDC ‘Sand Dollar’ to Launch In Less Than 30 Days

The Bahamas Central Bank has confirmed that its pipeline CBDC ‘Sand dollar’ will roll out next month as anticipated. This will mark the first retail-oriented CBDC to be integrated with fundamental financial market pillars as the world gradually shifts to digital payments. According to the announcement, Bahama’s Sand dollar is ready for national release and will be scaled past the pilot regions of Abaco and Exuma as of October 20.

Notably, the Sand dollar has been in the works since 2018 and came about as one solution to onboard more of the Island’s population into a ‘bank-like’ ecosystem. The latest development, therefore, marks a significant milestone for the prospectus Bahamian digital dollar, which might ultimately boost financial inclusion. The announcement noted,

“Although average measures of financial development and access in The Bahamas are high by international standards, pockets of the population are excluded because of the remoteness of some communities outside of the cost-effective reach of physical banking services.”

Sand Dollar Stakeholders

The Central Bank of Bahama will roll out Sand dollar in collaboration with Authorized Financial Institutions (AFI’s); these include Credit Unions, Money Transmission Business (MTB), Payment Service Providers (PSPs), and Commercial banks. They will act as the intermediaries between the regulator and retail market by providing services such as digital wallets and transactional operations.

The Sand dollar gradual national release will happen in two phases, with the first one being KYC and due diligence readiness amongst the AFI’s. This will cover all account tiers, including digital wallets that will be launched as part of the Sand dollar ecosystem. The Central Bank added that it would continuously increase engagement with the private sector stakeholders.

As for the second phase, emphasis will be on government services and public utilities; this stage is expected to kick off in 2021 between the first and second quarters. Likewise, the AFI’s are also in preparation mood with three PSPs, once a commercial bank and four MTBs already authorized to operate as Sand Dollar AFI’s.

“These AFIs are enabled to offer Sand Dollar services to stakeholders either through their custom apps (after successful completion of a cybersecurity assessment) or through the generic Sand Dollar app.”

Notably, the Sand dollar network has undergone an intensive cybersecurity assessment, which is, in turn, complemented by similar testing procedures by AFI’s before being integrated with this CBDC. Also, the Sand dollar wallets are embedded with 2FA features. The Central Bank, however, highlighted that Bahamians would enjoy confidentiality but not the anonymity of fiat.

Read Original/a>
Author: Edwin Munyui

People’s Bank of China (PBoC) Testing Digital Yuan (DCEP) for Credit Card Payments

China has been aggressively developing its central bank-issued digital currency (CBDC), popularly known as digital yuan. As per the latest reports, the People’s Bank of China is currently running a pilot project to test the use cases of its digital yuan for card payments, fees, credit card payments, and more.

China has been at the forefront of developing a national digital currency called DCEP. The government authorized the research for the project more than five years ago, and many people were speculating for an official launch by September last year. However, digital yuan was eventually made public at the start of 2020, and the PBOC jas been testing various use case for the digital currency ever since.

The first pilot program for DCEP saw it being used as a travel subsidy for government employees in 4 cities. Later the pilot program was expanded to several universal fast food and beverage companies operating in China, which included Starbucks and McDonald’s as well.

Chinese Central Bank Tests Final Use Case for DCEP

As per a report published in the local daily 8BTC, the PBOC is currently testing digital yuans use a case in the credit card ecosystem as it could be a key to bringing in more customers. The trials in the credit card domain are also being seen as the final trial before the much anticipated public launch.

The central bank also revealed three new pilot-free trade zones (FTZ), in addition to the one already functioning in the Zhejiang province. These free trade zones are key to China’s dream of becoming a blockchain hub for enterprises.

The central bank of China also announced three large innovation trial projects, namely the National Small and Micro Enterprise Digital Credit Reporting Pilot, Digital Currency, and Financial Technology Innovation supervision.

While most of the countries have shown interest in researching and developing their own national digital currency (besides Australia), China managed to complete the research and development of its national yuan quietly and is slated to become the first country to launch its own digital currency. It is also important to note that while the national yuan project is being propagated as one of the true CBDCs, but many have warned that digital yuan would not work on a decentralized blockchain. Rather it is a sophisticated way for the government to control the flow of money outside the country.

Whether the project turns out to be what many are speculating, it would be interesting to see how digital currency is rolled out for the world’s most populated country.

Read Original/a>
Author: Rebecca Asseh

Reserve Bank of Australia Sees No Rush in Launching A CBDC; Aussie Banknotes Are Working

As other nations are rushing to launch central bank backed digital currency dubbed CBDC, Australia is not joining the bandwagon.

As per the Australian local news platforms, the Reserve Bank of Australia recent payments paper indicates that the bank is taking a cautious stand when it comes to CBDCs and privately issued stablecoins.

According to the australian central bank, there is no urgent case or need to introduce a CBDC in the country. The regulator argues that the country has an efficient, real-time payment platform which eliminates the need of a CBDC.

In addition, the regulator notes that the use of cash for transactions is decreasing in the country as Australian citizens are getting rid of banknotes just like in other countries like Sweden.

According to the central bank, despite the COVID-19 crisis in the country, the demand for cash has gone up. In this regard, RBA has committed to continue making it easy for Australians to access banknotes “for as long as Australians wish to keep using them.”

The Reserves Bank’s paper also explored the projects being carried in China, Sweden and Canada – some of the countries which have taken the CBDC initiatives proactively.

When it comes to Sweden, the RBA says that the country has witnessed a significant decrease in the use of cash for a number of years hence the need for Riksbank to come up and test the use of e-krona.

In Canada’s case, the country’s central bank has been preparing itself to provide CBDC when the opportune time comes. The Canadian central bank has envisioned two scenarios when CBDC can be beneficial – a collapse in use of fiat money for normal transactions as well as a threat to the country’s monetary policy as a result of growth and development of privately issued digital money.

The RBA’s report also touches on Facebook’s Libra stating that it still remains a dream and is following closely on whether it be granted regulatory approval to operate in various jurisdictions.

The Australian central bank also opined that the Chinese CBDC project which is at an advanced stage is largely informed by the popularity of private-sector e-money wallets like WeChat and Alipay.

Read Original/a>
Author: Joseph Kibe

French Multinational Bank to Launch a Digital Euro Pilot Using Tezos Blockchain

Blockchain firm Tezos has been selected to spearhead the French central bank’s digital currency pilot program, one of a kind in Europe.

Societe Generale – Forge, a tech startup founded by French investment bank giant Societe Generale, has opted for Tezos to spearhead the central bank digital currency (CBDC) pilot program.

The French central bank Banque de France selected Societe Generale – Forge in July after a successful review of applicants in development of a CBDC to ease interbank settlements. France is carrying out an experiment to become the first European country to launch a digital Euro.

Tezos is a peer-to-peer public blockchain that has features such as on-chain governance, capacity to verify smart contracts as well as consensus algorithm that is primed on proof of stake. The blockchain platform comes with a vibrant ecosystem inclusive of research and development offshoot dubbed Nomadic Labs that is located in Paris and will play a vital role for the CBDC piloting. Nomadic Labs President, Michel Mauny explained about the deal:

“The Tezos project, strengthened by its technical capabilities, its adaptability, and its strong community, is already present in various projects, both in France and abroad. We are especially pleased to see this technology selected by Societe Generale – Forge, and to reaffirm, once again, that the quality and expertise of our engineering is rewarded.”

Francois Villeroy de Galhau, Banque de France’s governor, in December last year said that he was optimistic that France will be the inaugural European country to offer digital currency. The governor explained that the central bank is exploring how technology can be leveraged in enhancement of the financial markets more so when it comes to interbank regulations.

Although France seems to be on the forefront in development of a CBDC, other European countries such as Italy, Netherlands and Lithuania are also exploring the idea of CBDC. Additionally, the European Central Bank is also working on trials although details remain scanty.

Currently, Tezos is only one of the handful public blockchain platforms participating in development of a CBDC that could culminate to a digital euro.

Read Original/a>
Author: Joseph Kibe

Eurosystem to Make a Decision on Digital Euro in the Coming Weeks, ECB President

European Central Bank President Christine Lagarde says a panel of eurozone central bank officials is exploring the pros and cons of a digital euro and will soon reveal whether or not the region needs to create their very own central bank digital currency.

The initiative of a CBDC may be critical to ensure they don’t get left behind in the move to digital currencies and global changes in payments, said Lagarde, in a virtual event with Germany’s Bundesbank. Thursday evening she said,

“The Eurosystem has so far not made a decision on whether to introduce a digital euro. But, like many other central banks around the world, we are exploring the benefits, risks, and operational challenges of doing so.”

“The findings of a Eurosystem task force are expected to be presented to the public in the coming weeks, followed by the launch of a public consultation.”

While the fact that Europe is dominated by foreign payment service providers isn’t necessarily a concern, the ECB president said the “global context” and “increase in protectionist policies” do present new risks.

“We have a responsibility to ensure that our citizens have choice and cannot be excluded from the payments ecosystem due to the unilateral actions of others.”

A digital euro would be useful for retail users that are increasingly ditching banknotes in favor of digital payments. Still, it also poses the danger of crowding out private sector solutions and hollowing out the banking sector.

In the meantime, Sweden’s Riksbank has been testing its e-krona for months now. However, cash remains prevalent in eurozone countries, including Germany.

The Bank of England and the Federal Reserve have taken a cautious approach to introduce a CBDC. People’s Bank of China, meanwhile, is already running a trial for its DC/EP while the Bank of Japan is currently at the research phase of a digital yen.

Read Original/a>
Author: AnTy

Mastercard Launches a Virtual Testing Platform for CBDCs

  • Global payments company Mastercard launched a virtual testing platform for central banks to test out their CBDCs.
  • The technology company invited central banks, commercial banks, techs, and advisory firms to evaluate the suitability of CDBDs through its custom testing platform.

As the Bank for International Settlements survey revealed, a whopping 80% of central banks are engaged in some form of Central Bank Digital Currencies (CBDCs). In the race to embrace digital payments, central banks clearly don’t want to lose its control of the monetary policy in issuing and distributing currency while supporting innovation.

Supporting central banks modernizing payments, Mastercard announced this “proprietary virtual testing environment” today where the use cases for the digital fiat currencies could be evaluated.

“Central banks have accelerated their exploration of digital currencies with a variety of objectives, from fostering financial inclusion to modernizing the payments ecosystem,” said Raj Dhamodharan, Executive Vice President, Digital Asset, and Blockchain Products and Partnerships at Mastercard. And with this new platform, the company wants to support that decision.

On this virtual platform, the interested parties can simulate the issuance and distribution of the CBDC along with the exchange ecosystem with banks and customers.

It can be used to demonstrate how CBDC can be used to pay for goods and services anywhere Mastercard is accepted.

The development efforts of the CBDC that includes the technical, design, and security aspect, can also be evaluated while to determine its value and feasibility in the market, use cases and tech designs can be examined as well.

“Mastercard wants to harness its expertise to enable the practical, safe and secure development of digital currencies.”

Read Original/a>
Author: AnTy

Brazil Fast Tracks CBDC Launch; Central Bank President Calls for Roll Out In Next Two Years

  • Brazil’s central bank president, Roberto Campos Neto, announced the country’s plan to launch its own central bank digital currency (CBDC) by the end of 2022.

Speaking at a Bloomberg-sponsored event, Roberto Campos Neto, president of the Banco Central, praised digital currency payment systems as the future of financial systems claiming the country is in the pipeline of launching their CBDC in the coming two years.

Despite starting their research on its digital payments systems and CBDC recently, Brazil aims to accelerate its efforts in the field to provide a stable and working platform by 2023. According to Neto, Brazil’s CBDC will be built on an instant payment system allowing efficient, open, and interoperable transactions across similar systems in a bid to improve the financial system.

Neto stated Brazil is ready to launch its CBDC given it has “all the ingredients” to start its CBDC project and complete it by 2022. He said,

“To have a digital currency, you need an instant payment system that is efficient and interoperable; an open system, where you can create competition; and a currency that has credibility, is convertible and international. After that, I think you have all the ingredients to have digital currency. We think we will have it in 2022.”

Additionally, the central bank has been working on its banking infrastructure in a bit to provide instantaneous banking settlements between peer banks. The new infrastructure, PIX, will be launched in November, allowing peer-to-peer open banking transactions that can be settled in a matter of seconds.

Neto, however, did not mention the role that the CBDC will play in its new PIX infrastructure. It is expected to be complementary to the latter. He further clarified the role of a CBDC as:

“A CBDC distinguishes itself from cryptocurrencies without national trust, like Bitcoin, because it is just a new form of representation of the currency already issued by the national monetary authority, that is, it is part of the monetary policy of the issuing country.”

With the launch of its own CBDC project, Brazil joins several countries already working on CBDC’s, including China, Japan, and Canada.

Read Original/a>
Author: Lujan Odera

China Construction Bank Disables Chinese DCEP Wallet After Users Notice Feature in Bank App

China Construction Bank, one of the central state-owned banks in China, recently realized that the official wallet for the national CBDC is open for public use within its official banking app. The users could navigate to the wallet by merely entering the national digital currency, which would take the users to the wallet feature where they can register and activate the wallet by subscribing with the mobile number associated with their bank accounts.

Soon, the bank came to discover about the activation of the official wallet from the amount of community’s buzz that the activation caused among the crypto community in the country. Many customers went on to make small transactions in the yet to be released CBDC.

As soon as the news was brought to the attention of the state-owned bank, they swiftly disabled the feature. After disabling the official wallet feature, people searching for the CBDC wallet were shown a message which roughly translated to, “This feature is currently unavailable for the public, kindly wait patiently.”

How Does the Official Wallet Look and Function

The official wallet app was online for a brief period, but in today’s day and time, anything which makes it to the internet ones hardly disappear, and that has been the case with the ongoing official digital Yuan wallet launch by mistake. People were quick to post the layout of the wallet app on the internet, which showed that the users who managed to register with the new wallet app were given an official wallet ID, which could be used for the transfer of funds between the official wallet app and the user’s account.

The wallet would not just allow transactions between the bank and the app a user can send their digital yuan to another wallet by adding the unique wallet ID.

China is going to become the first country to launch its official digital currency issued by the People’s Bank of China. The big-four state-owned banks have been tasked to develop their respective wallet app to facilitate transactions using the CBDC.

China started its research on Central Bank Issued Digital Currency almost five years ago, and rumor mills were rife that the launch of the digital yuan would take place by the end of last year. However, the Chinese government mostly discarded these rumors without offering any official stance on the date of the launch. However, by the first quarter of 2020, the PBOC launched the testnet, and last week the mainnet for the digital yuan was established as well.

During the trial run, the government used digital yuan as a form of a travel subsidy for government employees in selected areas. The testing phase was later expanded to more cities and even included restaurants and fast-food chains.

With the official launch of the digital yuan just round the corner, many countries are actively observing China’s progress in the digital currency domain.

Read Original/a>
Author: Hank Klinger

Brazilian Central Bank Task Force To Study CBDC Issuance and Impact

The Central Bank of Brazil on 21st August announced that it will be setting up a world-wide study group to research the issuance of central bank digital currencies (CBDC). The central bank, in its official statement, noted the growing impact and adoption of digital assets, especially CBDCs.

The new study group will look into various aspects of digital assets and how it can help in the economic uplifting of citizens while ensuring to mitigate all risks associated with digital assets.

The main intention of the study will be to improve commercial transactions between public and private entities, along with improving international or cross-border remittance services. Some of the critical areas of this worldwide CBDC Study include,

  • Scope
  • Societal benefits
  • National challenges

The study group tasked at looking into different aspects of CBDC will also study the security vulnerabilities involved with these digital assets like data protection and regulatory compliance risks involved.

CBDCs have been a priority for many countries, especially after China’s aggressive approach towards blockchain and the launch of its native CBDC. Most of the countries are quite receptive to blockchain technology despite being critical of cryptocurrencies. This is the reason most of the countries are looking for ways to launch their own CBDC.

Read Original/a>
Author: Rebecca Asseh

Over 20% Of Central Banks Are Looking to Launch A CBDC In The Next 1-6 Years: BIS Report

  • There’s a growing interest in central banks looking at the possible implementation of digital currency in 2020 than the hype on Bitcoin (BTC), the Bank of International Settlement (BIS) reports.

In research published over the weekend, the Swiss-based BIS reports the growing attention by global central banks on research and development of central bank digital currencies (CBDCs) in 2020. The paper states the motivations, technical developments and policy approaches towards the launch of CBDCs vary across the central banks with the more innovative countries taking a step ahead.

According to the report, there is an increasing consideration of retail CBDCs across the central banks to provide a publicly usable currency while some consider a wholesale CBDC which “could become a new instrument for settlement between financial institutions.”

The comprehensive 39-page research focuses on over 175 central banks and over 16,000 speeches from recent years. The findings of the report state that central banks controlling a fifth of the world’s population are considering to launch a digital currency. Additionally, over 20% of the banks are fast-tracking their CBDC to launch in the next 1-6 years.

The report further reads,

“A full 80% of surveyed central banks are engaging in research, experimentation or development of CBDCs.”

The tipping point

Per the report, the number of speeches positively talking about digital currencies has surged since the end of 2018. As of July 2020, there were more central bank governors speaking positively about retail and wholesale CBDCs than having negative stances.

The tide seems to have switched with the launch of Facebook-led digital currency, Libra, and the global COVID 19 pandemic, the report states.

“A tipping point was the announcement of Facebook’s Libra and the ensuing public sector response.”

As for COVID 19 pandemic role in implementing CBDCs, several governments are accelerating their research and developments on CBDCs to ease payment systems and curb the spread of the virus through cash payments. The U.S. recently enhanced its efforts to offer a digital dollar “as a means of quickly executing government-to-person payments (CARE package), as an alternative to credit transfers and slow and costly cheques.”

These efforts by central banks have seen the public become more attentive to CBDCs over time. In 2020, BIS reports that internet searches across the world for CBDCs are massively overshadowing searches of Facebook’s Libra and Bitcoin (BTC) – which crossed the $12,000 mark earlier this month.

Central banks entering the digital era

As mentioned above, the technical decisions, method of implementation, and reasons for the launch of a CBDC vary across states and countries. According to the BIS report, countries with higher mobile phone usage and higher innovation capacity are associated with a higher likelihood of developing a digital currency.

So far, three countries, China, Sweden, and Canada, have completed tests on a retail CBDC and 13 countries are actively researching on the launch of a wholesale CBDC. Another 18 countries have published reports on the impact and effects of digital currencies on their economies.

BEG reported this July, the Bank of Japan (BoJ) is extending its efforts to launch a CBDC division that will work in cooperation with the U.S. and European governments. The project aims to compete with China’s launch of its digital renminbi (RMB). Other states actively focusing on CBDC include Lithuania, Canada, Cambodia, Thailand, among others.

Read Original/a>
Author: Lujan Odera