Payments giant teams up with blockchain firm to help create tech framework for CBDCs
Global financial service provider Visa and blockchain software firm ConsenSys have announced plans to build a platform for creating and launching central bank digital currencies (CBDCs).
“If successful, CBDC could expand access to financial services and make government disbursements more efficient, targeted, and secure – that’s an attractive proposition for policy-makers,” Catherine Gu, Visa’s global head of CBDC, said in a blog post Q&A session with ConsenSys, as cited by CoinDesk.
CBDC is essentially a country’s fiat currency in the form of a digital asset, which, unlike cryptocurrencies, is controlled by official monetary authorities – usually central banks. So far, only two countries in the world use a CBDC: the Bahamas and Nigeria. However, other nations have been working on a CBDC release of their own.
According to Gu, Visa’s CBDC payments module will be an extension for CBDCs on their existing payment networks. Banks and issuer processors will be offered the means to plug into the module and integrate their existing infrastructure, she explained.
The module will be a “CBDC sandbox” of sorts, in which central banks can experiment with distributing the coins after creating them on ConsenSys’ ethereum scaling protocol layer, Quorum.
“Central banks are moving from research to actually wanting to have a tangible product they can experiment with,” stated Cuy Sheffield, the vice president of Visa’s crypto department, as cited by Yahoo Finance.
Visa says its crypto teams plan to have completed the module in the coming months, at which point they will be able to start working with central banks on pilot CBDC launches. If the pilots are successful, it envisages its customers will have the means to use their CBDC-linked Visa cards or digital wallets anywhere Visa is accepted.
Last month, the company launched a global crypto advisory practice for banks and other financial institutions, aiming to help them develop their cryptocurrency businesses. It said at the time that “every bank should have a crypto strategy,” noting also that “it’s a critical role for Visa to play to help be this bridge between banks and the crypto ecosystem.”