Singapore’s Central Bank body, Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS), has revealed 15 finalists for the global CBDC contest. The contest was launched in July 2021 to discover the best solutions for a retail CBDC application, in conjunction with the World Bank, IMF, United Nations, and other global institutions.
Out of the 15 finalists, 3 of these are helping build out central bank digital currencies (CBDCs) for Ghana, Nigeria, and South Africa.
According to the country’s Chief Fintech Officer, Sopnendu Mohanty, the global CBDC challenge aims to discover and develop retail CBDC solutions that will benefit the global community.
Most of the finalists are big banks, tech organizations, many who are already working on CBDC projects across the world.
The size of applicants was 300, from over 50 countries, more than half which were from Asia.
The finalists will now go through an accelerator phase where they will have the opportunity to refine their solutions, ahead of presentations at the Singapore FIntech Festival where the best 3 will be selected.
Other than each project gaining $200,000 in prize money, finalists are also gaining access to the API exchange (APIX) which is a global sandbox for CBDC prototyping, formed by Monetary Authority of Singapore, World Bank’s International Finance Corporation, and ASEAN Bankers Association.
Some of the solutions already participating in the sandbox include:
CBDC sandbox by enterprise blockchain developer R3 in collaboration with Singapore-backed ASEAN Financial Innovation Network. The sandbox aims to support new payment rails that support CBDCs and multi-currency payment solutions using R3’s Corda enterprise blockchain
A CBDC testing patform by Mastercard for governments to evaluate use cases and test roll-out strategies for CBDCs by simulating a CBDC ecosystem
Partior, a wholesale blockchain-based payment network targeted for cross border transactions between Singapore’s largest bank DBS, JP Morgan Bank, and Singapore’s state-owned investment firm Temasek. This is intended to enable commercial banks to digitize deposits creating programmable money for cross border payments, trade transactions and foreign exchange settlement
Mojaloop Real Time Payments which has created a reference model for organizations looking to build interoperable payment platforms for residents in developing countries
The big banks among the finalists are working on various applications of digital ledger technology in the finacnial system. They include:
HSBC Singapore & Holdings
The tech companies who are finalists are
Bitt working on CBDCs in the Eastern Carribean, and the Nigerian e-Naira
Consensys in partnership with Visa working on the South African CBDC, Project Khokha
Giesecke + Devrent which is working on Filia, a token-based digital currency resembling cash in Ghana (e-Cedi) and Thailand
Soramitsu (in Cambodia)
cLabs which is an offshoot of the Celo blockchain, a mobile-focused blockhchain for emerging markets like Africa
Extolab which has developed a hardware wallet, a smartcard similar to a debit card with some additional buttons
Idemia, another smartcard company has also partnered with Consensys
A digital mobile wallet by Singapore’s IOG
Xfers a digital currency transfers service operating in South East Asia
France’s Criteo empowers secure and confidential blockchain transactions at scale
Although Singapore has not indicated that it will be launching a CBDC, the country’s monetary authority (MAS) has conducted multiple rounds of CBDC tests, and is currently working on a multi-CBDC solution that can aid banks to make wholesale cross border payments.
Besides, the country’s involvement in facilitating various CBDC and digital currency projects in Asia and across the world, is a showcase of its belief in digital currencies.