Central Bank Digital Currencies to Be Tested in BIS Experiment

Participants include Singapore, Australia, South Africa. Experiment may lead to new global digital payments platform.

Central Bank Digital Currencies to Be Tested in BIS Experiment
Computer components used in the mining of crypto currency sit on a shelf in a mining farm in Japan. (Photographer: Tomohiro Ohsumi/Bloomberg)

The Bank for International Settlements will test the use of central bank digital currencies with Australia, Malaysia, Singapore and South Africa in an experiment that could lead to a more efficient global payments platform.

Codenamed “Project Dunbar,” the study aims to develop prototypes for a common platform that will enable international settlement in digital fiat currencies issued by central banks, BIS said in a release Thursday. The system would allow direct transactions in central bank digital currencies, or CBDCs, between institutions, while reducing time and cost, according to BIS.

Globally, central banks are trying to come to terms with emerging payment technologies pioneered by tech firms including China’s Ant Group Co. Additionally, Facebook Inc.’s Diem project, formerly known as Libra, is building out a global payments network that could service its own stablecoin or central bank digital currencies.

The rapid growth of cryptocurrencies -- which are distinct from digital currencies issued by central banks -- is posing a potential threat to existing monetary regimes and adding urgency to debates on handling cross-border money transfers. 

“We are confident that our work on multi-CBDCs for international settlements will break new ground in this next stage of CBDC experimentation and lay the foundation for global payments connectivity,” said Andrew McCormack, head of the BIS Innovation Hub Singapore Centre.

Results of the study are likely to be published early next year, BIS said.

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