What Is the Profile of CBDC to the Autumnal Equinox 2021

In simple terms, a central bank digital currency (CBDC) would be digital money (e.g., banknote) issued by central banks of certain countries or other monetary authorities, unlike well-known cryptocurrencies, e.g., bitcoin.

More and more central banks have been paying attention to CBDC over the last five years. There is an opinion that 2021 is a turning point for CBDC penetration in the financial sector. Now the research and implementation projects are no longer a boutique-theoretical activity but have a strong engineering character with a practical effect.

Geographical dispersion and penetration (growth)

According to the CBDC Tracker source, there are currently 76 active CBDC projects, and the cancelled ones are 5. Central banks have initiated 81 projects. At present, CBDC activities can be seen on all the continents. In other words, there is no continent without a CBDC activity.

One of the banks that initiated a CBDC project is the European Central Bank (ECB). The ECB sets the eurozone's monetary policy (euro area) for its 19 members (countries). Besides, four small European countries have formal agreements with the EU to use the euro as their official currency. It means that more than 100 countries are interested in the implementation and use of the CBDC.

The number of announced CBDC projects in Jan-Sep 2021 is 22, 30% of the currently active projects. Comparing 2020-to-2021, i.e., y-to-y, is an increase of 69%. At the same time, the number of the CBDC projects announced during the 2018-2020 period is 39, i.e., the CBDC announcements could correlate with the digital transformation initiatives in the banking sector.

Status of the CBDC projects

The countries have initiated or started CBDC-related projects, which are in a different status of their CBDC-related progress.

75.3% of the projects are in research and proof-of-concept status. They are focusing on studies, reports, and experiments. Advanced research is a proof-of-concept, stated (published) or performed. 16 of 22 projects started in 2021 are in a research status, which is the first step in this vital initiative.

The CBDC projects in a pilot and launched status are 18.5% of all projects. They are run in a real environment for domestic interbank or international use cases with a limited number of parties or on a full scale. The six projects announced in 2021 are in pilot status, i.e., progressing well.

Unfortunately, 6.5% of all projects are cancelled or decommissioned.

Preference for CBDC: Token or Account

CBDC could be handled as a token or as through an account. The token-based CBDC are validated for their legitimacy or checked whether the token has already been spent. At the same time, account-based CBDC is under verification for the identity of the account holder/owner as a countermeasure for money transfer or withdrawal from accounts without permission. Besides, both could be implemented into one platform. As such, AML/KYC/CTF procedures would be performed.

Only 44% of projects in progress are with already defined form: Token, Account or both. The rest are under its determination - almost all of them are in a research status (38). For the time being, the different preferences are 20 for token-based, 8 for account-based (8) and 5 for both.

Retail and Wholesale CBDC

CBDC could be used by individuals to pay businesses, shops, or each other (a "retail CBDC"), or between financial institutions to settle trades in financial markets (a "wholesale CBDC").

Retail CBDC is declared in 71% of the projects. Wholesale CBDC is the goal in 18% of the projects. Only 6% of the projects are for both retail and wholesale CBDC. At the same time, the ratio between retail vs wholesale CBDC in the real environment is 8:7, correspondingly. i.e., their implementation is almost equal in the practice.

Interoperability

Interoperability shows the possibility for a CBDC integration with other digital currencies. CBDC projects are in different degrees of maturity and level of penetration, but sooner or later their coexistence should be a reality or a fact. Therefore, their integration is considered from the very beginning. For the time being, the CBDC interoperability is explicitly declared that the interoperability option has been included or incorporated in 16% of projects, but 11% of the projects do not consider (include) this option. For the rest of 73%, the interoperability is undefined.

Almost all the projects with interoperability are token-based (11 of 12), Only one account-based project includes interoperability. Besides, 50% of the projects with interoperability are for retail CBDC, 33% - for wholesale CBDC.

Maybe the more considerable penetration of CBDC in the practice should lead to a higher degree of interoperability.

Programmability (Smart contracts)

Programmability is an option for the implemented CBDC to support programmable logic (e.g., smart contracts).

Fifteen projects (19%) include the programmable logic, two projects do not possess this option, the rest are undefined for supporting the programmability. More of them (50) are in research status.

CBDC technology and providers

The technological dominant is DLT (Distributed Ledger Technology) with 29%. There are only 10 cases to set up CBDC on non-DLT platforms. Besides, 46 projects without a defined technology are in a research status.

The leading technology provider of CBDC is R3 with Corda and their 27% (9 DLT cases). Second are Bitt (4 cases) and Giesecke+Devrient (G+D) (2 cases). In addition, 45 projects in a research status do not link with a technology provider, maybe, which would be determined later with their progress or are not mentioned explicitly.

The CBCD profile at 22 Sep 2021

The predominated project status is research (53) with an additional extension for a proof-of-concept (6). The 38 projects in a research status are undefined according to:

  • The token-based CBDC or account-based CBDC (or both)

  • The CBDC interoperability with other digital currencies

  • The CBDC programmability for supporting smart contracts

  • Technology and its provider

The following compares the aggregated profile of CBDC initiatives, but with finalising the CBDC research, the characteristics (features) given below could be changed:

  • Retail vs Wholesale: Retail (57 of 81) and five combinations of Retail and Wholesale

  • Token vs Account: Token (20 of 81) and five combinations of Token and Account. However, 46 projects are undefined (neither token nor account). With their progress, the token-oriented preference could be changed, e.g., to be closer to legacy practices, monetary policy, etc.

  • Interoperability: Yes (12), but 58 projects are with an unclear interoperability

  • Programmability: Yes (12), but 46 research projects are with an unclear programmability

  • Technology platform: DLT

  • Technology provider: R3 Corda

In addition, R3 has become the world leader in implementing distributed ledger technology and digital currencies (Gartner, 2020).

About INDUSTRIA

INDUSTRIA is a global technology consulting, development and ventures firm with extensive expertise in the field of enterprise blockchain, confidential computing, process automation and digital experience. Official and strategic partner of R3.

Moreover, INDUSTRIA pays attention to developing CBDC in all aspects and assisting different countries in their CBDC research and implementation.

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