Latest Payments News: Singapore Confirms Plans To Issue Wholesale CBDC In 2024 and more

Kat Pilkington


November 20, 2023

Catch up on six of the stories our payments compliance analysts have covered lately, and stay up-to-date on the latest news.

Singapore Confirms Plans To Issue Wholesale CBDC In 2024

The Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) has confirmed that it will develop a central bank digital currency (CBDC) for wholesale interbank settlement beginning in 2024.

Under the plans, the MAS will pilot the “live” issuance of wholesale CBDC for the first time, after previously simulating issuance only within test environments.

The first pilot will involve the use of wholesale CBDC to settle retail payments between commercial banks, and future pilots could use CBDC to settle cross-border securities trade.

“The ‘live’ issuance of central bank digital money for use as a common settlement asset in payments is a significant milestone in MAS’ digital money journey that began in 2016,” said Ravi Menon, managing director of the MAS.

“The issuance of wholesale CBDC reinforces the role that central bank money plays in facilitating safe and efficient payments.”

The wholesale CBDC pilot will complement ongoing tests of regulated stablecoins, retail CBDC and tokenised bank deposits under the Orchid Blueprint.

Germany’s Commerzbank Grabs Crypto Custody Licence

Commerzbank has become Germany’s first full-service bank to be granted a Crypto Custody Licence by the Federal Financial Supervisory Authority (BaFin).

In a statement, Commerzbank said the licence will enable it to build up a “broad range” of digital asset services.

The bank’s first step will be to establish a “secure and reliable” platform to support institutional clients by providing custody for crypto-assets based on blockchain technology.

“Now that we have been granted the licence, we have achieved an important milestone,” said Jörg Oliveri del Castillo-Schulz, CEO of Commerzbank.

“This highlights our ongoing commitment to applying the latest technologies and innovations, and it forms the foundation for supporting our customers in the areas of digital assets.”

Czech Banks Launch Mobile Payments Service

Six of Czechia's largest banks have launched a new mobile payments service known as Contact Payments.

To register, customers will need to pair their mobile number with their bank account. Subsequently, customers will only need to know the mobile number of the payee to send money to them.

Upon launch, the maximum amount that users will be able to send per transaction will be 5,000 korunas (€200), and the register of numbers is being operated by the Czech National Bank.

A survey by the Czech Banking Association (CBA) found that almost two-thirds of people would like to use Contact Payments, and more banks are set to join the platform in 2024.

“We are bringing further simplification when sending money between people," said Monika Zahálková, executive director of the CBA.

IMF Offers Helping Hand With Virtual Currencies

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) has launched a central bank digital currency (CBDC) virtual handbook that can act as a reference guide for policymakers and experts at central banks and ministries of finance.

It will also serve as the basis for the IMF’s engagement with country authorities and other stakeholders.

The CBDC Virtual Handbook aims to collect and share knowledge, lessons, empirical findings and frameworks to address policymakers’ most frequently asked questions on CBDCs.

The IMF has said that as its expertise in the area grows, it will continue to add about five chapters every year aiming to provide about 20 chapters by 2026.

Moreover, the IMF has said that chapters will be periodically updated, reflecting evolving views.

IMF chair Kristalina Georgieva said on LinkedIn this week that “there is more space for innovation”, and that “this is not the time to turn back” on CBDC projects.

“Keep preparing for CBDCs and payment platforms, and design these platforms with cross-border payments in mind,” she said.

Belgian Regulator Launches DORA Awareness Survey

The Belgian Financial Services and Markets Authority (FSMA) has launched an awareness survey to help financial institutions prepare for the Digital Operational Resilience Act (DORA).

The survey has been launched to enable the regulator to get a better understanding of the “maturity level” of the firms that it supervises.

The obligations established by the DORA regulation will apply from January 17, 2025, but industry insiders have told Vixio that firms are already preparing to become compliant with the requirements.

Mastercard, NEC Expand Biometric Checkout Program To APAC

Mastercard has announced that its Biometric Checkout Program will soon be launching in Asia-Pacific as a result of a new partnership with NEC Corporation.

Following a memorandum of understanding (MoU), the partnership will combine NEC’s face recognition and liveness verification technology with Mastercard’s payments facilitation at checkout.

"Biometric solutions offer a seamless, quick and secure checkout, without needing to unlock a phone or insert a PIN,” said Ajay Bhalla, president for cyber and intelligence solutions at Mastercard.

Mastercard said the program offers an all-in-one solution that combines biometric performance with data protection and privacy requirements for merchants, PSPs and financial institutions.

After launching last year with a pilot in Brazil, the program will be showcased this week at Singapore FinTech Festival.

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