BIS press release: BIS Innovation Hub to focus on CBDC, payments, DeFi and green finance in 2022 work programme

Originally published on the BIS website
Published on 25 January 2022

BIS press release

  • New initiatives also focus on regulatory and supervisory technology and cyber security.
  • First projects to be launched in the new London and Stockholm centres.
  • Several projects will support broader Group of 20 (G20) efforts to improve cross-border payments.

In 2022, the Bank for International Settlements (BIS) Innovation Hub will launch new projects into central bank digital currencies (CBDCs), next generation payments systems and Decentralised Finance (DeFi), expanding its portfolio of explorations seeking to develop new technological public goods for central banks. The Innovation Hub’s work programme will also see new projects in green finance, regulatory and supervisory technology and cyber security.

This year marks a new phase in the Innovation Hub’s expansion, with the first projects in the London and Nordic Hub Centres; the expected opening of the Eurosystem and Toronto centres; and the advancement of the strategic partnership with the Federal Reserve System.

“With an expanded network of Hub Centres and exciting new projects, the BIS Innovation Hub is now in a stronger position to innovate in a sound, sustainable way, harnessing the benefits of digital technology, serving the public interest, and working cooperatively with the central bank community, academia and the private sector,” says BIS General Manager Agustín Carstens.

CBDCs and improvements in payments systems continue to be an area of exploratory focus, accounting for 13 out of 17 projects that were active in 2021 or will be launched in 2022. This reflects the interests and priorities of BIS member central banks.

One of the highlights of the 2022 agenda is the second BIS Innovation Summit, “Money, Technology, and Innovation” to be held on March 22-23, bringing together senior leaders from the public and private sector and academia. Projects across the centres will include:

Switzerland

Project Rio explores how central banks can use data streaming to monitor fast-paced electronic markets. The first phase built a prototype that collects and processes vast amounts of foreign exchange data in real time. In the next phase, the team is designing a production-ready, user dashboard. It is being considered for professional use by some central banks.

The Swiss Centre and Swiss National Bank are also compiling the lessons learned from two CBDC-related projects (Helvetia II and Jura), and will subsequently scope new CBDC-related projects using Arena, an in-house blockchain platform being built as a testing ground for central banks. Potential areas of focus include DeFi applications, monetary policy implementation and privacy.

Singapore

Project Ellipse builds a platform to help financial regulators to digitally extract, query and analyse a large quantity of data from diverse sources, incorporating Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning. The code is expected to be published as open source. In a new phase, named Project Viridis, the platform will be tested for supervision of climate-related financial risk and sustainability metrics.

The Singapore team is also continuing its investigation of multi-CBDC shared settlement platforms with Project Dunbar; and with the second phase of Nexus, which seeks to integrate the national instant payments systems of Singapore, Malaysia and Italy. It is being observed closely by several other central banks.

Hong Kong

A new project will explore whether DeFi technologies – blockchain, tokenization, smart contracts and customer identification – can improve financing for small and medium enterprises, a historically underserved market segment.

The Hong Kong Centre will continue to work on mBridge, testing the integration of wholesale CBDCs from four central banks; on Aurum, a retail CBDC prototype; and on a second phase of the Genesis prototypes, which will further explore the intersection between technology, the financing of green projects and how countries can achieve their carbon reduction targets.

London

The London Centre’s first projects will consider how individuals and businesses can benefit from the development of CBDCs and next generation financial market infrastructures. One project will enable the development of innovative payment solutions that can be settled quickly and cheaply with central bank money. And a second will develop a platform supporting applications that individuals and businesses can use to store, transfer and pay with retail CBDCs.

Nordic

The Nordic Centre starts out with two projects. One seeks to demonstrate how a holistic view of payments data could be used to detect illegal activities, such as money laundering, tax evasion and financing of terrorism. The second will investigate the security and resilience demands and solutions that enable CBDCs to be used offline.

Several projects support the G20 initiative to enhance global cross-border payments, in particular, by assessing the practical and technological complexities involved in implementing different multi-CBDC arrangements. The Innovation Hub will also continue the Techsprint initiative under the Indonesian G20 presidency this year.

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