Much has already been written on the various considerations central banks must be mindful of as they immerse themselves in central bank digital currency (CBDC) research from a theoretical perspective. This article presents insights from the vantage point of the consultant in driving the execution of a CBDC pilot based on real-life practical experience.
Pinaka Consulting served the Eastern Caribbean Central Bank (ECCB) on its CBDC project, providing programme management and technical oversight in the design, development, implementation, and operationalisation of the DCash product. With the DCash pilot now operational in all eight Eastern Caribbean territories, our focus shifts somewhat from execution to providing assistance in charting the CBDC strategic direction, inclusive of potential commercial deployment, while also maintaining technical oversight of enhancements, new features, and integration efforts.
The factors motivating developing countries towards retail CBDCs are very different from those in more developed economies, where retail payment infrastructure may be more advanced. For example, the eKrona CBDC project in Sweden is partially justified as a way in which the Sveriges Riksbank can maintain influence given that a cashless society has been largely attained due to effective retail payment systems developed by third parties. On the other hand, developing countries may be drawn towards the known benefits of a cashless society, such as reducing cash usage, advancing financial inclusion, or a potential desire to stimulate innovation in the retail payment system.
These motivations, while unique to each country, have led to the Caribbean small states realising three operational retail payment CBDCs at present: the Central Bank of The Bahamas’ Sand Dollar, the ECCB’s DCash, and the Bank of Jamaica’s JAM-DEX. Additionally, the Central Bank of Haiti has expressed its commitment to developing its own CBDC, a digital gourde. These are amazing achievements for the Caribbean in pioneering practical and operational research in this sphere.
The role of the consulting partner, as distinct from the vendor, on a CBDC project ensures that good governance is practiced in maintaining a separation of duties and responsibilities. Keeping consulting and project management roles distinct from roles involved in software development assists with accountability and ensures the independence of necessary advice.
On the DCash project, the development, implementation, and operationalisation with stakeholder partners took two years from inception to its launch in March 2021, a global first within a monetary union. Over this period, the ...
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