The Hong Kong Monetary Authority (HKMA) is taking significant steps towards the second phase of its e-HKD pilot program, following the successful completion of Phase 1. This in-house central bank digital currency (CBDC) initiative, which was launched as part of the “Fintech 2025” strategy in November 2022, aims to assess the commercial practicality of e-HKD.
Key advantages of Hong Kong’s e-HKD CBDC phase 1
Phase 1 of the pilot program focused on six critical areas:
- Full-fledged payments
- Programmable payments
- Offline payments
- Tokenized deposits
- Settlement of Web3 transactions
- Settlement of tokenized assets
In a recent report, the HKMA emphasized the potential of e-HKD in programmability, tokenization, and atomic settlement, highlighting how these aspects could benefit both consumers and businesses.
Phase 2 explores new use cases for e-HKD CBDC
The report stated, “The next phase of the e-HKD pilot program will build on the success of Phase 1 and consider exploring new use cases for an e-HKD.” This expansion will delve deeper into use cases that displayed promise during the Phase 1 trial.
Notably, technical considerations lean towards utilizing distributed ledger technology (DLT)-based design due to its interoperability and scalability advantages.
Hong Kong’s CBDC program employs a three-rail approach, encompassing foundation layer development, industry pilots, iterative enhancements, and a full launch. Currently in the second rail, the e-HKD trial program is supported by both public and private organizations, ensuring commercial viability for all parties involved.
HKMA’s commitment to rail 1 initiatives
The HKMA also continues its efforts in the first rail, which focuses on establishing legal and technical foundations for e-HKD.
In addition to local initiatives, various central and commercial banks have joined forces under Project mBridge to explore solutions for faster, cheaper, and more transparent cross-border payments. HKMA CEO Eddie Yue recently announced the expansion and commercialization of mBridge, with new banking members from China, Hong Kong, Thailand, and the UAE. This open platform aims to pave the way for the gradual commercialization of cross-border payment solutions.
As Hong Kong advances its CBDC initiatives and explores new applications for e-HKD, the global landscape of digital currencies and cross-border transactions continues to evolve, promising increased efficiency and convenience for consumers and businesses alike.