Enterprise blockchain provider Ripple is partnering with Bhutan’s central bank to pilot a central bank digital currency (CBDC), the company said in a press release on Thursday.
The Royal Monetary Authority (RMA) will use Ripple’s CBDC Private Ledger to run retail, cross-border and wholesale-payments pilot tests of a digital version of the ngultrum, Bhutan’s national currency. The pilot will be built atop the country’s current payments infrastructure and will be conducted in phases.Bhutan’s stated goal is for its population to reach 85% financial inclusion by 2023. An RMA report published in December last year puts one measure of Bhutan’s financial inclusion at 67.6% in 2019.No date was announced for the trials to start. Ripple didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.The private ledger, which is based on the open-source XRP Ledger, claims to be 120,000 times more efficient than standard proof-of-work blockchains making it desirable for a carbon-neutral approach, according to the release. The ledger seeks to provide central banks with “flexibility” and “control” without sacrificing financial stability and monetary policy objectives.“Our collaboration with Ripple is testament to the potential of CBDCs to provide an alternative and sustainable digital payment instrument in Bhutan,” said Yangchen Tshogyel, deputy governor of the RMA. “Ripple’s groundbreaking technology will allow for the experimentation of a CBDC with our existing payments infrastructure while ensuring efficient and cost-effective cross-border transfers.”Ripple has been making headway in the cross-border sector with a number of collaborations with banks and other financial institutions. This year, SBI Ripple Asia, a joint venture between SBI Holdings and Ripple, introduced Cambodia’s first international remittance service that uses blockchain rails, among other uses.