MAS, IMF and World Bank launch global retail CBDC challenge

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The competition is designed to find innovative retail CBDC solutions that increase efficiencies and promote financial inclusion

Central Bank Digital Currencies (CBDCs) are seeing growing adoption, with most world governments now at some stage of the CBDC development process. There are still hurdles to overcome, however, before mass adoption will be possible. This is something the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) is trying to tackle.

In partnership with the World Bank, International Monetary Fund, Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, Asian Development Bank and various arms of the United Nations, the MAS announced yesterday the launch of a global CBDC challenge to find retail solutions.

MAS’ Chief FinTech Officer, Sopnendu Mohanty, explained, “Central banks worldwide are actively exploring issuance of digital currencies, and are confronted with a wide range of policy and technology challenges. Through the Global CBDC Challenge, MAS hopes to encourage innovator communities worldwide to develop and showcase solutions that can maximise the potential of CBDC to deliver efficiencies to payment services, improve financial inclusion, consistent with central banks’ core mandate of monetary stability.”

Proposed solutions should be cost-effective, accessible to all users and address 12 problem statements. These include decentralisation vs accountability, recoverability vs anonymity and expanding access to financial services vs guarding against data monopolies.

Finalists will be able to test and develop their solutions through the APIX Digital Currency Sandbox, which incorporates APIs from Mastercard, Partior, R3, Mojaloop Foundation and APIX. Other technical partners providing support include Amazon Web Services and open-source blockchain project Hyperledger.

Executive Director of Hyperledger, Brian Behlendorf, added, “Hyperledger’s open source community and world-leading blockchain expertise is uniquely placed to assist entrants in this exciting challenge. Hyperledger has a number of technologies already being deployed in CBDC projects. We recommend a number of Hyperledger DLT frameworks for entrants to consider for this challenge, including Hyperledger Besu, Fabric and Iroha.”

Entrants have until 23 July to submit their solutions, which will be pitched by finalists later this year during Demo Day at the Singapore FinTech Festival. After that, up to three winners will be chosen to receive a prize of $50,000 SGD ($37,000) each.

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