Singapore Central Bank to Start 'Live' Wholesale CBDC Trials

The trials are part of a broader initiative to set up infrastructure for digital money transfers, including tokenization of banking assets.

AccessTimeIconNov 16, 2023 at 11:16 a.m. UTC

The Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) plans to issue a “live” central bank digital currency (CBDC) for wholesale settlement, the central bank announced on Thursday.

MAS said that the plan is part of a broader set of initiatives aimed at expanding trials of asset tokenization and setting up the infrastructure for a digital Singapore dollar.

MAS’ Orchid Blueprint sets out the technology infrastructure required for digital money transfers in the future, and a new set of four trials involving industry players looks to test various components. One, looking at tokenized bank liabilities for retail payments, will first be trialed at the Singapore FinTech Festival 2023, happening now, according to the bank.

“To complement the digital money trials by the financial industry involving retail and corporate users, MAS will commence the development of CBDC for wholesale interbank settlement next year. MAS will pilot the “live” issuance of wholesale CBDCs for the first time, after previously simulating issuance within test environments,” the statement added.

MAS’ first wholesale CBDC pilot will settle retail payments between commercial banks, while future tests could look at cross-border settlements.

Singapore has already been exploring CBDCs for wholesale use. At the same time, countries have been given the go-ahead by international organizations to prepare legislation and infrastructure for issuing digital versions of fiat currencies to stay on top of payment innovation. Some countries also view CBDCs as an answer to private crypto, with MAS Managing Director Ravi Menon calling cryptocurrencies “a failure on Thursday.”

“The ‘live' issuance of central bank digital money for use as a common settlement asset in payments is a significant milestone in MAS’ digital money journey that began in 2016. The issuance of wholesale CBDC reinforces the role that central bank money plays in facilitating safe and efficient payments,” Menon said in a press statement.

Edited by Parikshit Mishra.


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Sandali Handagama

Sandali Handagama is CoinDesk's deputy managing editor for policy and regulations, EMEA. She does not own any crypto.

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