Central Bank of Nigeria to Release CBDC By 2021 Ending

Central Bank of Nigeria to Release CBDC By 2021 Ending

At the bankers’ committee meeting yesterday, Rakiyat Mohammed, the Director, Information Technology Department, Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), revealed that the apex bank would launch a Central Bank Digital Currency (CBDC) before the year runs out. The director noted that:

“As I said, before the end of the year, the Central Bank will be making the special announcements and possibly launching a pilot scheme in order to be able to provide this kind of currency to its populace.”

Rakiyat noted that over 80% of central banks worldwide are in different stages of CBDC development, and the CBN cannot get left behind. She also revealed that the bank has explored the appropriate technology and has made significant progress for the past two years.

The director illustrated what a naira-based CBDC would look like, noting that there were currently two forms of money in Nigeria. She explained that:

“We have currency in two forms in Nigeria as of now, there are the notes, and there are the coins. So the Central Bank currency is to be the third form of money which means just as we have electronic money, digital money is not new in Nigeria. Just as we are about the third or fifth in the whole world as far as advancement in the use of digital money is concerned. So this is going to compliment the coins and cash that we have. The Central Bank digital currency will just be as good as you having cash in your pocket, and even as you have the cash in your pocket, you are going to have the cash on your phone.”

Central Bank of Nigeria to Facilitate CBDC Awareness Campaign

The CBN’s CBDC effort would eventually help the bank promote its cashless policy. However, the high illiteracy level in the country could be a stumbling block for the mass adoption of the CBDC in the country.

The central bank has noted that it would carry out awareness campaigns across the country to ensure that the CBDC gets utilized by all classes.

 

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Digital Yuan: Shanghai Authorities to Give $3 Million In CBDC Lottery

Digital Yuan: Shanghai Authorities to Give $3 Million In CBDC Lottery

In its unrelenting efforts to develop and release a digital yuan, Shanghai authorities have announced that they would distribute $3 million worth of the Chinese central bank digital currency to Shanghai residents.

As seen in other parts of China in the past, the digital currency will get distributed through a lottery. The state-run Xinhua news agency announced the new development last Friday.

The Shanghai authorities announced via their official WeChat handle that they have prepared 350,000 red envelopes for lottery winners. Each of these envelopes will contain 55 units of digital yuan.

In Chinese tradition, red envelopes represent small packets containing money typically gifted to children, family members, friends, and employees, intended to act as a good luck wish. The color red also symbolizes energy and happiness in China.

Shanghai authorities announced that portals for registering for the lottery are now on. Interested customers can do so through the official WeChat accounts of the local branch of the Industrial Commercial Bank of China and the cloud service of the Bank of Communications in Shanghai. Registration will take place from June 5 to 6.

Shanghai Becomes Test Site for the Digital Yuan

Being one of the four directly administered municipalities in China, including Beijing, Shanghai, Tianjin, and Chongqing, Shanghai gets governed by the State Council of the People’s Republic. Already, the Chinese government has disbursed millions of dollars worth of digital yuan to spark interest in the public.

The authorities have carried out similar trials in several other Chinese cities, including Beijing, Shenzhen, Chengdu, and Suzhou.

That said, winners of the lottery are free to spend the funds at merchants accepting the digital currency.

However, reports show that most Chinese citizens are wary of participating in the trials due to worries over privacy infringement and government surveillance.

 

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Central Bank Digital Currency (CBDC): South Korea Enters the Race

Central Bank Digital Currency (CBDC): South Korea Enters the Race

South Korea’s central bank has indicated its resolve to implement a central bank digital currency (CBDC) at a slow but sure pace.

According to a report by the Korea Herald yesterday, the Bank of Korea (BOK) is working on a virtual environment to allow for the evaluation, control, and testing of various stages of its proposed digital currency.

That said, the bank will split its research efforts into two parts. The first part would be purely theoretical, which would allow the team involved to study the best features of the CBDC, its compatibility with the existing legal requirements, and possible problems that could arise.

The second part would be purely practical and would involve real-time testing, international transactions, and payment facilitation under several real-life conditions.

While the new development brings Korea closer to getting a sovereign digital currency, the authorities are still wary. With the first phase of work scheduled to begin in August, the central bank does not yet have a release date or plans for a launch.

Nonetheless, research should get rounded off in December. That said, successful implementation of phase 1 should open the door for the start of phase 2 in June 2022.

Central Bank Digital Currency Could Replace Korean Won

A BOK official told the Korea Herald that the country could begin using CBDC if proven to be more efficient than cash.

The official noted that:

“We are launching the pilot test to see how CBDC could be used as a form of a safe asset when the share of cash transactions declines significantly.”

The BOK revealed that the Korean government has approved a budget allocation of 4.9 billion won ($4.4 million) for this project.

This development has pushed Korea into the race for the first developed nation to launch a CBDC. China is currently leading the pack and has already distributed millions of digital yuan for real-time testing in several regions.

 

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Indian Government Reconsiders Banning Cryptocurrencies

Indian Government Reconsiders Banning Cryptocurrencies

The Indian government is reportedly rethinking banning crypto use in its jurisdiction and is now considering a more lenient regulatory approach. According to inside information, the government has created a new panel of experts to develop a regulatory framework for cryptocurrency use.

The Asian giant has remained indecisive in its efforts regarding cryptocurrency for several years. In 2018, the Reserve Bank of India instructed all its affiliated companies to desist from operating with digital assets. However, only after two years, the Supreme Court of India reversed the ban.

Despite the immense interest in cryptos by its citizens, Indian authorities continue to oppose its growth in the country. The government announced in March that it would criminalize cryptocurrency transactions in the country.

According to The Economic Times, the country has shifted its anti-crypto stance and is considering regulatory measures instead. Referring to three inside sources, the report noted that the authorities “may form a fresh panel of experts to study the possibility of regulating cryptocurrency in India” instead of an outright ban.

The new push will address previous recommendations made by former Finance Secretary Subhash Garg in 2019. The new committee argued that the older rules are outdated.

Indian Government to Also Develop CBDC

An insider familiar with the new development told The Economic Times that:

“There is a view within the government that the recommendations made by Subhash Garg are dated, and a fresh look is needed at [the] use of cryptos rather than a total ban.”

The insiders asserted that the recent surge in trading volume by local traders prompted the finance ministry to shift its recent stance.

Additionally, the committee will utilize blockchain for “technological enhancement” and develop new ways to regulate cryptocurrency as digital assets instead of currencies.

Meanwhile, the committee’s objective includes working with the central bank on developing and releasing a digital rupee (CBDC).

 

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China Enter Final Stages of Digital Yuan Trials, as Other Central Banks Lag Behind

China Enter Final Stages of Digital Yuan Trials, as Other Central Banks Lag Behind

China continues to dominate the central bank-issued digital currency (CBDC) space as the People’s Bank of China ramps up its testing efforts. The bank announced recently that it ran a successful pilot program for the digital yuan in Suzhou City, where 181,000 individuals were given ¥55 ($8.5) in free digital yuan to spend at designated outlets in the Double Fifth shopping festival between May 1 and 5.

This pilot program is in line with the PBoC’s plan to target 500,000 customers in 11 Chinese regions since April. Eligible customers were asked to download an app that gave them access to a wallet containing the currency. These customers received discounts when they made purchases at participating stores.

The digital yuan is, essentially, a digital version of the Chinese Yuan used on a blockchain, just like other digital assets like Bitcoin (BTC) and Ethereum (ETH). However, the blockchain hosting the digital yuan is permissioned, which means that the PBoC controls who can access or use it.

The recent rounds of trials on the sovereign digital asset are tenfold that of the initial round that occurred in early 2020. China has also been testing the currency across borders within Hong Kong and Shenzhen and is reportedly working on a platform to give the digital asset viability in countries like Thailand, UAE, and the Bank of International Settlements.

With every new testing, China solidifies its prospect of becoming the first country to launch a sovereign digital currency on a permissioned blockchain. Although no date for a launch has been set yet, echoes around the industry see a possible launch within the next 12 months, most likely in installments.

Other Central Banks are Lagging
Meanwhile, western counterparts like the Federal Reserve, the Bank of England, and the European Central Bank have been more sluggish in their effort to release a central bank digital currency. Western central banks appear to be worried about privacy concerns from transaction history being publicly accessible on the blockchain and the effects a CBDC could have on retail banks.

However, with the digital yuan nearing completion, concerns over the stability of the global financial space continue to get raised. Large economies and central banks are tasked with coming up with the perfect response to this development.

 

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Bank of Japan Resumes Effort to Launch a Sovereign Digital Currency

Bank of Japan Resumes Effort to Launch a Sovereign Digital Currency

The Bank of Japan (BoJ) officially announced that trials for its central bank digital currency (CBDC) are now live. The bank noted that the first phase of its trials should be completed by March 2022. According to a Reuters report, the trial will involve two phases.

The BoJ will focus its trial on the technical feasibility of the digital asset; how to issue, distribute, and redeem a central bank digital currency. The apex bank also noted that it would be concerting its efforts with other central banks to develop a product on par with the innovation already in the CBDC space.

In its second testing phase, the BoJ will focus on more specific product capabilities, like limits to determine the amount of CBDC each entity can handle at a given time.

The Executive Director of the Bank of Japan, Shinichi Uchida, noted that the financial institution has backed up its CBDC plan. He added that, should the need arise, the central bank will launch a pilot program involving payment service providers and end-users.

Uchida also noted that:

“While there is no change in the BOJ’s stance, it currently has no plan to issue CBDC, we believe initiating experiments at this stage is a necessary step.”

It is worth mentioning that the BoJ, in late 2020, put its CBDC development program on hold because it lacked serious demand from citizens.

4 in 5 Central Banks Are Working on a CBDC
One of the preeminent goals of many central banks across the globe is to reduce the use of paper money in its jurisdiction. That said, several of the banks have embarked on journeys to develop and launch a sovereign central bank digital currency to promote cashless policies.

According to a 2020 report by the Bank of International Settlements, four in every five central banks (80%) have plans or have initiated actions to develop and launch a CBDC.

The People’s Bank of China (PBoC) is the leading institution in the race to develop a CBDC and is close to releasing the world’s first central bank-issued digital currency after several years of intense research and development.

 

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Bank of Russia Announces Plans to Launch a Beta CBDC Before the End of 2021

Bank of Russia Announces Plans to Launch a Beta CBDC Before the End of 2021

According to Prime News, the Bank of Russia has announced that it is working on launching a prototype of its central bank digital currency (CBDC) and start piloting as early as the end of 2021. The new information got disseminated by Alexey Zabotkin, the Deputy Chairman of the Bank of Russia, in an online event hosted by the Russian Economic School.

The prototype will give the public access to test the digital ruble, although real-time transactions will be restricted, for now.

Zabotkin noted that:

“Next year, based on this prototype, we will consider further developments and thereafter launch testing rounds.”

The Russian central bank first publicized its interests in pushing for a digital ruble in October last year. At the time, the official consultation paper described the digital ruble as an “additional form of money alongside cash and non-cash.”

Association of Russian Financial Institutions Raise Concerns About the CBDC Model
The national project faced some headwinds in January 2021 when the association of Russian banks and fintech companies highlighted the flaws in the proposed blockchain-based fiat model and raised issues about the likelihood of the cryptocurrencies getting used by fraudsters.

Nonetheless, 83 percent of the respondents on the consultation paper asserted that they were solidly behind the central bank’s plan to launch a CBDC.

Olga Skorobogatova, the Bank of Russia’s first Deputy Governor, noted sometime last month that the financial institution planned on proceeding with its proposed model to develop a digital ruble.

Meanwhile, major lenders of the country are getting ready to launch digital currencies as well. Sberbank, Russia’s largest state-owned bank, is trying to court approval for the launch of its blockchain-based platform, which will aid the bank to launch a digital currency.

 

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