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CBDCs Adoption Around The World

Central Bank Digital Currency (CBDC) is a digital form of fiat currency that is issued by a country's central bank. It is designed to be a secure and efficient way to make payments and store value. CBDCs are becoming increasingly popular around the world, with many countries exploring the possibility of issuing their own digital currencies. CBDC is not cryptocurrency like Bitcoin, but rather a centralized, regulated, stable, private, and secure unit of account and means of exchange.

In this article, we will explore the investigation and adoption process of CBDCs in several countries, including India, China, Nigeria, the Bahamas, the South Caribbean, Russia, and Ecuador.

The Bahamas

The Central Bank of The Bahamas launched the Sand Dollar, its own CBDC, in October 2020. Sand Dollar became the first truly functioning central bank digital currency in the world. Users open a digital wallet directly on the platform of the Central Bank, and access to it is carried out through a mobile application, bypassing the intermediary bank. The Sand Dollar was designed to provide greater financial inclusion and reduce the country's reliance on cash. It is currently being used for retail transactions in several islands in the Bahamas.

The Sand Dollar is a digital version of the Bahamian dollar (B$), which is pegged 1:1 to the Bahamian dollar and 1:1 to the US dollar. As any other CBDC it is a centralized, regulated, stable, private, and secure means of exchange. It is backed by the government and is regulated by the Central Bank of The Bahamas. The Sand Dollar is a retail CBDC, which means it is designed for use by the general public for everyday transactions.

The Bahamian financial authorities launched their CBDC to provide more inclusive access to regulated payments and other financial services for unbanked and underbanked communities and socio-economic groups within the country. However, as we see in Nigeria or even China, CBDC is not very popular with the local population. Paying with Sand Dollars can be tricky because almost no Bahamian uses them, and very few merchants accept them. Despite the fact that more than two years have passed since the introduction of digital currency, it makes up less than 1% of the money in circulation in the Bahamas. The Bahamian citizens, accustomed to using cash, are suspicious of money held directly in the accounts of the Central Bank, and the settlements of which are characterized by complete transparency for the state.

Nigeria

Nigeria has become the second country in the world to implement CBDC, after the Bahamas. The country's digital currency is called eNaira, and a pilot project was launched by the Central Bank of Nigeria in October 2021. It is noteworthy that before the launch of eNaira, the Central Bank of the country has actively tried to prevent the cryptocurrency usage by the population, forcing banks to identify and close all accounts on which transactions were made to buy or sell it.

According to a Bloomberg report in October 2022, the usage of eNaira is at just 0.5% of the country's population. By last August, the eNaira was used to carry out transactions worth 4 billion naira ($9.3 million) since it was introduced in October 2021. The eNaira Wallet has been downloaded 840,000 times and has about 270,000 active wallets.

The slow adoption of eNaira in Nigeria can be attributed to several factors, including lack of trust in government institutions, low number of eNaira wallet downloads and growing adoption of cryptocurrencies. Another thing is that many Nigerians don’t understand the real difference between Naira and eNaira. Customers are not keen on using eNaira, even when they make electronic transactions, citing no clear difference between the value of Naira and eNaira.

But it seems that the main reason of a slow CBDC’s adoption in the country is a huge informal economy of Nigeria powered by cash transactions. Population common to make cash payments have no reason to switch to CBDC that is fully transparent for government and law enforcement authorities.

China

Same as the Bahamas or Nigeria, China is one of the countries that is at the forefront of exploring and adopting CBDCs. The goals of CBDCs issued by various countries are predominantly to improve the efficiency and security of domestic and international payments and settlements, enhance financial inclusiveness, adapt to the development trend of a cashless society, enrich monetary policy tools, and combat illegal and criminal behavior.

China has been ramping up its efforts to popularize the use of its digital yuan or e-CNY, as the project moves closer to its planned national rollout. In May 2023, government employees in the city of Changshu will receive their salaries in digital yuan. The city has been part of the CBDC project for a while now, with the city paying some government workers’ transit subsidies via the e-CNY. Several other Chinese cities have been experimenting with the e-CNY in various ways since its launch in 2020. China is also working on interoperability of the e-CNY with Hong Kong’s Faster Payment System, building toward a launch of the e-CNY in Hong Kong.

China is leading CBDC adoption and testing, and the e-CNY system interacts with commercial banks, payments providers, AI and big-data vendors, other central banks, and international institutions.

India

India has launched two CBDC pilots, one for wholesale (CBDC-W) and one for retail (CBDC-R) segments. The wholesale CBDCs are restricted to financial institutions and are meant to improve the efficiency of interbank payments, while the retail CBDC is meant for the private sector and Indian citizens. The retail CBDC pilot is active in at least 15 cities with more than 13 banks participating, and it began on December 1, 2022.

The RBI has published a 50-page concept note for the introduction of a CBDC, which is the first such comprehensive report by the RBI's Fintech Department. The RBI is aiming to scale the user base of the digital rupee to one million users, and has prioritized solving the challenge of creating an offline version.

The target number CBDC-R users is one million users. The RBI is aiming to achieve this target within a specific timeframe. Initially, RBI officials publicly stated in March that they were aiming for 500,000 users by July. However, they are privately looking to double that amount and reach one million users. By targeting one million CBDC users, India aims to promote the adoption and usage of the digital rupee as a secure and efficient form of digital currency.

Now the CBDCs are being investigated by more than 130 countries in the world. The majority of them are designed to be the third form of national money but others aimed to be a form of payment for local unions. For example, the Eastern Caribbean Central Bank launched its own CBDC, the DCash, in March 2021. The DCash is being used in several countries in the Eastern Caribbean, including Antigua and Barbuda, Grenada, and St. Kitts and Nevis.

The next country to start its CBDC Pilot will be Russia. The digital ruble is expected to be launched in August 2023, and it will coexist with cash and other forms of digital payments.

From the other side, there are also examples of failure in running the CBDC. Ecuador launched its Dinero Electrónico in 2015 to provide greater financial inclusion and reduce the country's reliance on cash. However, the project was not successful, and it was eventually discontinued in 2018.

The TokenScope Team
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