Digital Money Is Catching On

Some say that the future of money is digital. It is estimated that more than 80% of central banks are now considering launching a central bank digital currency (CBDC) or have already done so.1  The 2022 PwC CBDC Global Index analyzes and ranks the leading retail and wholesale CBDC projects. The Index evaluates the current stage of CBDC project development also taking into account central bank opinion and public interest.

Overall, the findings noted that “CBDC projects (digital currencies designed for public use) have reached greater maturity levels than wholesale projects (digital currencies used by financial institutions that have accounts with central banks), but the past year has seen progress on a number of successful wholesale pilots.”

Retail projects in the Index are led by the Central Bank of Nigeria’s (CBN) eNaira, the first CBDC in Africa, and the Sand Dollar, issued by the Central Bank of the Bahamas as legal tender in October 2020, making the Bahamas the first country to launch a CBDC. China became the first major economy to pilot a CBDC in 2020 with the digital yuan and, as of March 2022, pilot programs are running in 12 cities, including Beijing and Shanghai.

On the wholesale side, the leading project in the Index is the combined effort of the Hong Kong Monetary Authority (HKMA) and the Bank of Thailand (BoT) to launch the mBridge project, focused on developing a proof-of-concept prototype to enable real-time, cross-border foreign exchange payments on distributed ledger technology. Also ranked highly is the work of the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS), with two new CBDC projects, as it continues the development of a wholesale CBDC for cross-currency payments.

The PwC report also provides an overview of stablecoins, digital currencies collateralized by, for example, a fiat currency, which can allow a bridge to be created between the traditional financial ecosystem and digital technologies.

For the complete report, and its fascinating findings, please see PwC Global CBDC Index and Stablecoin Overview 2022.