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mBridge CBDC project preparing for new members, launch of minimum viable product

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Project mBridge may soon see significant expansion, according to Hong Kong Monetary Authority (HKMA) CEO Eddie Yue. He outlined the plans for the central bank digital currency (CBDC) project in a speech in Shanghai.

Yue said tests have shown mBridge to provide faster, cheaper and more transparent cross-border payments. The project was initiated in 2021 with the participation of the HKMA, and the central banks of China, Thailand and the United Arab Emirates, as well as commercial banks from each of those jurisdictions and the Bank for International Settlements Innovation Hub (BISIH).

Now mBridge will expand and be commercialized. Yue said:

“We are expecting to welcome more fellow central banks to join this open platform. And very soon we will launch what we call a minimum viable product, with the aim of paving the way for the gradual commercialisation of mBridge.”

Central banking officials connected with the project have said previously that a central bank does not have to have its own CBDC to participate in it. All of the current participants have CBDCs at the stage of pilot projects. The only countries that have launched CBDCs are the Bahamas, Jamaica and Nigeria, according to the website cbdctracker.org.

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mBridge’s progress has already been noticed in the United States Congress. Ranking member of the House Financial Services Committee Maxine Waters expressed her concern during the markup of Representative Tom Emmer’s CBDC Anti-Surveillance State Act on Sept. 20 that the project could be leveraged to evade economic sanctions. The key to effective sanctions evasion by CBDCs is adoption, experts say.

Commercial banks participating in Project mBridge. Source: BISIH

mBridge is the only international CBDC project China has taken part in. Its digital yuan is by far the world’s largest CBDC pilot, and the People’s Bank of China has made several deals with international companies and commercial banks to further the adoption of the digital yuan. Thus, BNP Paribas China and DBS Bank China have made integrations with the digital yuan available to their corporate clients in 2023.

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