BSP to launch digital currency experiment in fourth quarter

Warren De Guzman, ABS-CBN News

Posted at May 20 2022 02:37 PM

MANILA - Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas Governor Benjamin Diokno on Friday said the experiment on wholesale central bank digital currency (CBDC) would begin in the fourth quarter.

CBDC is a digital form of a central bank’s fiat currency.

CBDCs might improve fund transfers between banks and non-bank financial institutions, the central bank said during a forum with the Asian Development Bank Institute.

The experiment signals a growing acceptance of blockchain technology in finance which could possibly lead to the launch of a CBDC in the short term, the BSP said.

"We are going to launch that, the CBDC PH, this, the fourth quarter of this year. It involves a number of financial institutions. So let’s see where we go from here," Diokno said.

It utilizes the same blockchain technology used to issue and keep track of cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin and Ethereum. 

The main difference is unlike those cryptocurrencies, CBDCs are backed by their respective central banks and governments. Cryptocurrencies meanwhile are designed to be decentralized with no regulating authority. 

"BSP finds it essential to conduct experiments on wholesale rather than retail CBDC, which may be used for inter-institutional fund transfers among banks and non-bank financial institutions," Diokno said.

"The Central Bank may use the learnings from a pilot project, which we are launching this year, ascertaining how a wholesale CBDC may potentially be deployed to address pain points in cross-border payments, settlement of securities transactions, and intraday liquidity," he added.

The BSP under Diokno has been pushing for digital advancements in in line with its goal of converting 50 percent of payments into digital by 2023.

As of the end of March the BSP has registered 19 Virtual Asset Service Providers or VASPS which allow Filipinos to exchange and trade virtual assets such as cryptocurrencies and Non Fungible Tokens or NFTs.

Six digital banks were also given licenses to operate and expand financial inclusivity in the country. 

Currently, the retail payment system includes InstaPay and PESONet online fund transfers.

In October 2021, the BSP said 1 in 5 payments are already digital. 

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