Blockchain for Banking News

EMTECH completes Ghana CBDC hackathon on public DLT

ghana cbdc ecedi digital currency

The Bank of Ghana (BoG) concluded its first central bank digital currency (CBDC) hackathon. The event involved ten teams developing eCedi solutions deployed on Hedera’s public DLT, using EMTECH’s Beyond Cash digital currency solution. KPMG participated as a service provider on a pro bono basis, establishing the competition criteria and supervising the event. The hackathon participants included developers, banks and fintechs.

The prizes were significant, with the winning team Forward Titans walking away with eCedi 500,000 ($41,500). Second and third-placed participants Nokofio and Pay Code received eCedi 300,000 ($25,000) and 200,000 ($16,600) respectively. The organizers didn’t share the winners’ use cases. 

However, the ten finalists launched apps covering agriculture, government payments, business payments, taxation, securities, crowdfunding, interoperability and credit scoring.

Ghana’s hackathon started in October with 88 applications pruned to 68 and eventually to ten finalists.

“We appreciate the cross-country and cross-continent collaboration among innovators,” said Dr Ernest Addison, Governor of the Bank of Ghana. He reiterated that Ghana’s eCedi project is motivated by financial inclusion, improving the safety and efficiency of payments, and digitalization. In 2021 Ghana’s financial access ratio improved to 68%, up from 41% in 2014.

CBDC technology providers

EMTECH said that participants were given access to BYDC-eCedi APIs to ease integration. All transactions used the ERC-20 token standard. While transactions were transparent on the public DLT, user information was kept private.

“Bank of Ghana’s successful pilot with our web3-enabled technology stack showed foresight and leadership,” said EMTECH’s CEO Carmelle Cadet. “It also establishes a template of ‘How To CBDC for the Web3 era’ while collaborating with banks and fintech ecosystems.”

Meanwhile, in 2021 the Bank of Ghana contracted Giesecke+Devrient (G+D) Currency Technology to develop a pilot for its retail CBDC, with trials conducted during 2022. That included offline CBDC. 

We were curious about whether the EMTECH offering integrated with the G+D offering or was entirely independent. For clarification, we contacted the Bank of Ghana, EMTECH and G+D, but we didn’t receive a response. 

Update: Following publication we received the following response from EMTECH CEO Carmelle Cadet. “After working with G+D for offline CBDC, BoG’s exploration continued in testing a web3 components and test various cases with their ecosystem. A hackathon, also called an innovation challenge, approach with EMTECH offered that. We fully expect to support various offline integrations, so we’re ready to work with others to build the right solution for Ghana, when it’s ultimately decided by the Bank of Ghana.”

It’s still relatively unusual for CBDC trials to use public blockchains. However, some of the recent Australian pilots did. That said, Australia does not plan to proceed with a retail CBDC for now. Its current focus is wholesale CBDC.

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