Project Icebreaker: breaking new paths in cross-border retail CBDC payments
The Bank for International Settlements (BIS) Innovation Hub and the and the central banks of Israel, Norway and Sweden, concluded Project Icebreaker, which studied the potential benefits and challenges of using retail central bank digital currencies (CBDCs) for cross-border payments. In the Icebreaker model, a cross-border transaction is broken up into two domestic payments, one in each domestic system, so the CBDC never leaves its own domestic system. Foreign exchange (FX) providers buy one currency in one system and sell the other currency in the other system. Settlement is via a coordinated payment-versus-payment (PvP) arrangement using hash time locked contracts (HTLC), going a long way towards eliminating counterparty risk in the FX transaction. FX providers submit FX rates to the Icebreaker hub, which selects the best rate to be presented to the payer for each payment request. The number of connections between retail CBDC systems are kept to a minimum by the hub-and-spoke approach. The Icebreaker hub only routes payment messages and does not act upon them. The only information it acts upon is the data from FX providers, which are used when identifying and selecting the best FX rates for the payer. [Read more at the BIS]
Iran completes pre-pilot phase of central bank digital currency
Iran has reportedly completed preliminary research for the launch of a potential digital rial, including a pre-pilot development phase, according to the central bank’s Monetary and Banking Research Institute. However, this should be taken with a big “grain of salt” because there have already been two, apparently false, reports that pilot launches were imminent, e.g., in January 2022 and February 2023. I will be “demoting” the Iranian retail CBDC from “piloted/ launched” to “proof-of-concept” in my next retail CBDC update. [Read more at CoinTelegraph]
Crypto Exchange Bybit Suspends Dollar Payments via Bank Transfers
Crypto exchange Bybit is suspending USD bank transfers on March 10 due to service outages at its end-point processing partner.” It didn’t identify the partner, but it is speculated that it was Silvergate Bank. Silvergate discontinued the payments network that has served as a USD fiat transfer hub for the crypto industry, after the firm raised questions about its own viability. After March 10 customers can continue to buy crypto with credit cards. [Read more at Bybit]
Lemonade launches blockchain-based climate insurance in Kenya
Insurtech Lemonade has launched its blockchain- and stablecoin-based parametric climate risk insurance in Kenya’s Taita Taveta County. 6,000 insurance policies were issued by the Lemonade Crypto Climate Coalition, constituted as a decentralized autonomous organization (DAO) on Avalanche, an eco-friendly proof-of-stake blockchain. Farmers sign on their feature phones on which they also pay their insurance premiums using stablecoins or local currencies to cover their entire crop against drought and flood. When the season is over, parametric weather results are gathered and payouts are automatically made to farmers in drought or flood affected areas, with no claims filing process. [Read more on Twitter]
Upcoming conferences, webinars and speaking engagements:
- I’ll be providing a (probably virtual) update on global central bank digital currency (CBDC) developments at the Digital Euro Association Digital Euro Conference on March 31 in Frankfurt. [Register here]
- I’ll be moderating a panel on “what happens when the lights go out…different schemes for offline functionality” at the in-person Digital Currency Conference (DCC) in Mexico City on May 18. [Register here]
Kiffmeister’s global central bank digital currency monthly monitor
Just a reminder that I produce a monthly digest of central bank digital currency (CBDC) developments exclusively for the official sector. So for any of you out there who work for a central bank, ministry of finance or international financial institution who would like to receive it by email on the first business day of every month, please DM me on LinkedIn or email me at email@example.com.
The Sovereign Official Digital Association (SODA) is a technology-agnostic firm offering advisory services at the intersection of central banking, digital finance and the web3 industry, aiming to make public digital money a reality. SODA believes institutions in the existing financial ecosystem should have access to the tools and resources they need to move from discussion to action. SODA offers ‘real life’ use cases to help test digital money and drive adoption as central banks and other public institutions explore the future of a more financially inclusive world powered by interoperable blockchain-based networks. SODA would love you to join us on this journey – please get in touch (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Satoshi Capital Advisors is a New York-based, global advisory firm that works with central banks, governments, and the private sector to architect, implement, and operate varying initiatives. Satoshi Capital Advisors’ central bank work revolves around CBDC architecture and implementation, providing advisory services from research phase through to growth phase. Utilizing a product-market fit and technology agnostic approach to CBDC architecture and implementation enables Satoshi Capital Advisors to build tailored solutions, bespoke to local financial system nuances. Satoshi Capital Advisors welcomes requests from central bank officials for virtual and in-person CBDC workshops. [Click here for more information]
WhisperCash offers the first fully offline digital currency platform that has the same properties as physical cash. It can perform secure consecutive offline payments without compromising on security, privacy or accessibility. WhisperCash allows direct person to person offline payments without any server infrastructure or internet connectivity. It comes in various form factors including the self-contained credit card-sized “Pro” that sports an eInk screen and capacitive keyboard, and lasts for two weeks between recharges assuming a few transactions per day. [Click here for more information]