Ukraine Commercial Bank to Test Digital Currency Built on Stellar

The pilot will test an electronic hryvnia in handling payroll for public employees along with peer-to-peer and merchant payments

Dec 14, 2021 at 1:00 p.m. UTC
Updated Dec 14, 2021 at 1:00 p.m. UTC

One of Ukraine’s oldest commercial banks, Tascombank, is planning to test an electronic hryvnia, a digital version of its sovereign currency.

The electronic hryvnia will be built and tested on the Stellar network and be deployed via global fintech platform Bitt’s digital currency management system (DCMS), the bank said in a statement published Tuesday. The pilot will test the digital currency’s effectiveness in public employee payroll, peer-to-peer payments and merchant payments.

Valeriy Danilenko, Tascombank’s deputy chairman who is responsible for e-commerce, said the pilot is supported by Ukraine’s Ministry of Digital Transformation and all “e-money activities” by the commercial bank are under the regulatory supervision of the central bank, NBU. According to the statement, the electronic hryvnia will be built under Ukraine’s existing e-money legislation, and the pilot is anticipated to kick off in 2022.

“We aim to conduct a pilot in the shortest reasonable time, and we are working on this together with partners and stakeholders in Ukraine,” Danilenko said in an email to CoinDesk. He did not specify the duration of the test.

Monetary authorities the world over are amping up research and trials of central bank digital currencies (CBDC). According to the Atlantic Council’s CBDC tracker, around 80 countries are actively exploring digital currencies backed by central banks. Most recently, in November, Nigeria launched the eNaira, reportedly recording nearly 500,000 wallet downloads in the first three weeks. In October, the European Central Bank kicked off a two-year experiment into a retail CBDC, one that can be used by consumers for making or receiving payments.

Ukraine, too, has been laying the groundwork for the potential launch of an electronic hryvnia. In early July, the nation’s parliament passed a law regulating payment methods that listed a future CBDC in the same category as cash or electronic money. In late July, President Volodymyr Zelensky signed into law a bill that would allow the NBU to issue a CBDC.

The upcoming pilot “will serve as a technological basis for the issuance of electronic money, and is the next key step to advance innovation of payment and financial infrastructure in Ukraine,” said Oleksandr Bornyakov, Ukraine’s deputy minister of digital transformation in the statement.

The statement also said that the pilot will test the use case for programmable payroll with employees at Diia, a public IT solutions enterprise in Ukraine. Danilenko said Tascombank is still considering the number of users that will be taking part in the pilot project as privаte citizens, merchants and institutions are involved.

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Sandali Handagama is a CoinDesk reporter with a focus on crypto regulation and policy. She does not own any crypto.