The Central Bank of Tunisia is denying reports that it has launched a digital currency.
In a sweeping rejection published this week the central bank quashed “unfounded” rumors that it had become the first monetary authority to issue a central bank digital currency (CBDC), asserting instead that an unaffiliated “proof of concept” project was taken “out of context:”
“The [Central Bank of Tunisia] has not engaged any relationship, of any kind, with any national or foreign provider with the aim of creating any digital currency.”
The bank did admit that it is considering a CBDC, as it says it is studying “all existing alternatives.” But there are no immediate plans for an E-Dinar to go live: “The bank is studying the opportunities and risks inherent in these new technologies, particularly in terms of cyber security and financial stability.”
Last week, Russia’s state-owned Tass news agency reported the Central Bank was partnering with the Universa Blockchain to develop and issue a digital currency. The announcement was claimed to have come at a FOREX Club Tunisia event.
But the Central Bank said that no announcement was ever made. Instead, it pointed to a CBDC test project demonstration at the FOREX event at the root of the misunderstanding:
“This test of POC (Proof of concept) was taken out of context becoming a marketing operation where the name of the BCT was improperly used.”
Universa’s CEO Alexander Borodich also presented the project at the Malta AI & Blockchain Summit in Malta last week. Borodich hadn’t responded to CoinDesk’s request for comment by press time.
Universa, which raised $28.8 million during an ICO in 2017, has been mired in a scandal in Russia. In March 2018, Universa community manager Artur Lipatov wrote a Facebook post saying that Universa’s blockchain could not power smart contracts, the company’s operations were in trouble, and that he was leaving – that post is now unavailable.
The statement dropped Universa’s token value by 20 percent from $0.037 to $0.03 and Borodich sued his former employee for $15,500 for defamation.
Tunisia earlier showed some mild interest to the blockchain tech. In 2015, the country’s Ministry of Communication Technologies posted a job opening for an intern with blockchain knowledge. The same year, Tunisia’s postal service reported trialing a crypto-powered payment app.
The country remains open to experiments with the tech, according to today’s statement.
Tunisian flag image via CoinDesk archives