Hong Kong launches eHKD Pilot for digital currency innovation

May 22, 2023

By Sharan Kaur Phillora

The Hong Kong Monetary Authority (HKMA) unveiled its central bank digital currency (CBDC) pilot program for the e-HKD. Sixteen banks and payment firms will collaborate across a dozen use cases.

Here’s what we know: 

In September 2022, the central bank outlined its three-pronged approach to developing a CBDC, although it has yet to decide to proceed. The first element was the legal foundation and the technical infrastructure for a wholesale layer for its CBDC. 

The pilot launch means the design of that layer is complete, and it expects to take two to three years to develop it. The other elements are the current pilot phase and a potential implementation approach.

Most of Hong Kong’s largest banks are involved in the pilots, with HSBC and Hang Seng Bank involved. It also includes several payment technology firms, including Alipay (HK), Ripple, Gieseck+Devrient (G+D), Visa, and Mastercard.

HKMA CEO Eddie Yue said this was an “opportunity for the HKMA to collaborate with the industry to explore innovative use cases and maximize our readiness for a potential e-HKD. We appreciate the industry’s active participation.”

It also announced plans for a CBDC Expert Group of academics to explore privacy, cybersecurity, and interoperability topics.

One of the most novel use cases is exploring tokenized commercial bank deposits with HSBC, Hang Seng Bank, and Visa, presumably with Visa providing the interoperability between banks. HSBC said it would study the “viability, key design considerations, and interoperability” of deposit tokens. Such a solution would enable the banks to settle the tokenized deposit payments with CBDC. 

Meanwhile, Ripple will accomplice with Taiwan’s Fubon Bank and others to display fairness launch with tokenized belongings utilizing a retail model of the e-HKD CBDC. 

“Experiences popping out of the Rail 2 pilots will issue into any selections by HKMA to go reside with an e-HKD at a later date (Rail 3),” Ripple vice chairman of central financial institution engagements and CBDCs James Wallis instructed Cointelegraph in a written Q&A.

The pilot venture will run on Ripple’s new CBDC product — the Ripple CBDC Platform — utilizing a new non-public ledger with XRP Ledger know-how and enhanced performance, offline transactions, and non-smartphone use. 

About the author

Sharan Kaur Phillora’s thirst for knowledge has led her to study many different subjects, including NFTs and Blockchain technology – two emerging technologies that will change how we interact with each other in the future. When she isn’t exploring a new idea or concept, she enjoys reading literary masterpieces.

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