Project mBridge is set to undergo significant expansion, according to Hong Kong Monetary Authority (HKMA) CEO Eddie Yue, who recently outlined the plans for the central bank digital currency (CBDC) project during a speech in Shanghai.
First introduced in 2021, project mBridge saw the participation of HKMA, along with central banks from China, Thailand and the United Arab Emirates. Additionally, commercial banks and the Bank for International Settlements Innovation Hub from these regions were also part of the ambitious project.
According to media reports, mBridge is preparing to broaden its horizons and move towards commercialization. “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,” Yue said in a statement.
Central banking officials involved in the project have said previously that it is not mandatory for central banks to have a fully-launched CBDC of their own to participate. As of now, all the central banks that are part of mBridge have their CBDCs in the pilot project phase. Only a handful of countries—including the Bahamas, Jamaica, and Nigeria—have officially launched their CBDCs thus far.
Notably, the progress of the mBridge project recently made waves in the United States Congress. Last week, Maxine Waters, the ranking member of the House Services Committee voiced concerns that the project could be potentially used to bypass economic sanctions. Her remarks came during the markup of Representative Tom Emmer’s CBDC Anti-Surveillance State Act. Whether or not CBDCs are successful in evading sanctions remains to be seen.
China’s participation in mBridge is noteworthy because it is the only international CBDC project that Beijing is part of. China’s digital yuan, which is part of project mBridge, has been gaining popularity lately, with an increasing number of firms using digital yuan to get funding from banks. Meanwhile, China’s Minsheng Bank has launched an advanced digital CNY-powered payment service, in collaboration with e-commerce giant Jingdong.
A recent report by the Bank of International Settlements (BIS) revealed that about 93% of central banks worldwide are exploring a CBDC. Last month, Todayq News revealed that Belarus was planning to roll out a digital version of the Belarusian Ruble for cross-border payments, following in the footsteps of Russia. Meanwhile, the Reserve Bank of India is examining the scope of digital rupee in cross border transactions, having initiated discussions on the matter with 18 countries.