France Trials CBDC, Blockchain for Government Bond Deals

The experiment is one of the EU’s largest to date, with nearly 500 transactions executed during trial.

Oct 19, 2021 at 5:26 a.m. UTC
Updated Oct 19, 2021 at 6:44 p.m. UTC

France’s central bank has executed a series of bond transactions leveraging blockchain using its own digital currency as part of a 10-month pilot.

The Banque de France, along with a group of France’s largest financial market participants, executed the transactions using a system developed by U.S.-based IBM, according to a statement from securities depository Euroclear.

Nearly 500 instructions in both primary and secondary markets were executed, though the value of the transactions was not disclosed in a report published on Euroclear’s website.

BNP Paribas, Crédit Agricole CIB, HSBC and Societe Generale made up the consortium.

Led by Euroclear, the pilot also included large French banks as well as the French public debt office, per the report.

The CBDC trial, reported earlier by the Financial Times, is one of the European Union’s largest to date, with France regarded as one of the highest-profile eurozone members to launch such an experiment. Sweden, whose Riksbank is also toying with digitizing its national currency, uses the e-krona.

Earlier this year, the Banque de France published a request for proposals for central bank digital currency (CBDC) “experiment” applications in a bid to help it understand the risks and mechanisms of CBDCs. The bank has also engaged in a number of experiments using a CBDC for the wholesale market and cross-border payments as well as interbank settlements.

China is currently the largest economy leading the charge with the implementation of a CBDC for use within its domestic market and plans to extend its CBDC trials to foreigners visiting the nation during next year’s Winter Olympics, to be held in Beijing.

And while the EU and the U.S. are yet to develop to advanced stages, the threat of private cryptocurrencies, including stablecoins pegged to fiat currencies, has prompted a number of nations to pursue CBDCs.

“This project went well beyond previous blockchain initiatives because it successfully tested most central securities depository and central bank processes whilst eliminating current interim steps, such as reconciliation between market intermediaries,” said Soren Mortensen, global director of financial markets at IBM, as cited in the report. “We are rapidly moving towards fundamental change in the post-trade market infrastructure.”

UPDATE (OCT. 19, 9:16 UTC): Changes sourcing to Euroclear, adds link to report.



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Sebastian Sinclair is a CoinDesk news reporter based in Australia.