Today the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) announced 15 finalists for its Global CBDC Challenge to find the best solutions for retail central bank digital currencies (CBDC). Singapore has not committed to launching a CBDC itself. The initiative was launched in conjunction with the World Bank, the IMF and other global institutions.
“The Global CBDC Challenge aims to discover and develop retail CBDC solutions that will benefit the global community,” said Sopnendu Mohanty, MAS Chief FinTech Officer. “There was a healthy diversity of solution approaches across the different problem statement categories.”
The finalists were whittled down from 300 applications and include a mixture of big banks, tech organizations already heavily involved in CBDC initiatives, and a few new names.
Apart from prize money, finalists also gain access to the API Exchange (APIX) Digital Currency Sandbox for prototyping. The technologies in the sandbox include R3’s CBDC offering, Mastercard’s CBDC platform, the Partior Digital Currency from JP Morgan, DBS Bank and Temasek and Mojaloop Real Time Payments.
In addition to Mastercard, Visa also has a presence as it partnered with ConsenSys to create a Visa Retail CBDC Payment module for the competition.
Four big banks, ANZ, Citibank Singapore, HSBC Singapore & Holdings, and Standard Chartered, are amongst the finalists. Several high profile technology providers made it to the finals, most of whom have significant CBDC proof of concept experience. They are Bitt (Eastern Caribbean), ConsenSys (MAS, Hong Kong, Thailand, South Africa, France, Australia), Giesecke+Devrient (Thailand, Ghana), IBM, and Soramitsu (Cambodia).
Amongst the lesser-known names are cLabs, an offshoot of the Celo blockchain which also targets financial inclusion. Extolab has developed a neat-looking hardware wallet, a smartcard similar to a debit card with some additional buttons. Another smart card company is the much larger IDEMIA which has partnered with ConsenSys.
Singapore’s IOG offers a digital mobile wallet and Xfers enables people to send and receive digital currency payments. France’s Criteo empowers secure and confidential blockchain transactions at scale.
Famously, MAS previously conducted numerous rounds of CBDC tests as part of Project Ubin. It is also currently experimenting with the BIS on a multi-CBDC solution – Project Dunbar – that banks could use to make wholesale cross border payments.