The Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA) has announced that it will be with several other banks as well as software companies to explore the development and use of a central bank digital currency (CBDC). RBA’s partners include the Commonwealth Bank, the National Australia Bank, financial services company, Perpetual, and software company, ConsenSys.
In addition to the ‘issuance of a tokenized form of CBDC’, the bank said that the project’s Proof-of-Concept (POC_ would also involve the exploration of decentralized financial services. Specifically, RBA mentioned “the funding, settlement and repayment of a tokenised syndicated loan on an Ethereum-based DLT platform.”
“The POC will be used to explore the implications of ‘atomic’ delivery-versus-payment settlement on a distributed ledger technology platform as well as other potential programmability and automation features of tokenised CBDC and financial assets,” the official announcement of the partnership said.
The project is expected to reach completion around the end of this year; the involved parties reportedly intend to publish the project’s findings during the first half of 2021.
The Inevitable March toward CBDCs
This announcement from the Australian central bank is only the latest example of a growing list of countries and supranational entities that are exploring the issuance of central bank digital currencies.
Last month, the European Central Bank (ECB) announced that it would be launching a project to explore the issuance of a ‘digital euro’ by the middle of 2021.
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“The High-Level Task Force on CBDC will coordinate this experimentation so that the resources of the Eurosystem are leveraged efficiently,” the ECB declared. “To ensure that meaningful answers are obtained to the open questions raised in this report, towards mid-2021 the Eurosystem will decide whether to launch a digital euro project, which would start with an investigation phase.”
We’ve started exploring the possibility of launching a digital euro. As Europeans are increasingly turning to digital in the ways they spend, save and invest, we should be prepared to issue a digital euro, if needed. I’m also keen to hear your views on it https://t.co/0ZuU2ZZgCp pic.twitter.com/CoY5sN7Yoz
— Christine Lagarde (@Lagarde) November 1, 2020
Beyond the EU, China has been working to launch a national digital currency of its own for the past several years. In the US, no specific plans have been made to launch a CBDC, but the possible issuance of a ‘digital dollar’ has entered the country’s legislative dialogue at several points.
Additionally, last month, The Central Bank of the Bahamas became the latest national financial institution to launch a state-backed digital currency. The so-called ‘Sand Dollar’, pegged to the Bahamian dollar (which is pegged to the USD), was available to all 393,000 Bahamian residents as of October 21st.