News In Brief - September 1, 2021

September 1, 2021
The Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) has revealed the identities of 15 finalists for its global central bank digital currency (CBDC) competition — including HSBC, Standard Chartered Bank and Citibank. Meanwhile, AUSTRAC is changing its systems and wants comment from regulated firms.

MAS Announces CBDC Finalists

The Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) has revealed the identities of 15 finalists for its global central bank digital currency (CBDC) competition — including HSBC, Standard Chartered Bank and Citibank.

The MAS' Global CBDC Challenge has ramped up to the next stage now that the regulator has unveiled its list of finalists.

The initiative attracted more than 300 submissions from more than 50 countries, with more than half of those submissions coming from Asia, according to the watchdog.

“The quality of proposals received from the global innovation community was impressive. There was a healthy diversity of solution approaches across the different problem statement categories,” said Sopnendu Mohanty, the MAS’ chief fintech officer, in a press statement.

Finalists will now showcase their software at Singapore’s Fintech Festival, he confirmed.

The festival, which the MAS is organising, will take place on November 15 and 16. Finalists will present their innovations and the top three will win S$50,000 apiece in prize money. All 15 finalists will be fast-tracked in their applications for grant funding of up to S$200,000 as part of the MAS Financial Sector Technology and Innovation (FSTI) Proof-of-Concept Scheme.

The software of the finalists and key insights will appear in a report after the event.

The finalists announced by the MAS are:

  • ANZ Banking Group Limited
  • Bitt
  • Citibank N.A., Singapore Branch
  • cLabs, Inc
  • Consensys
  • Extolabs LLC
  • Giesecke+Devrient GmbH
  • HSBC Bank (Singapore) Limited and HSBC Holdings plc
  • IBM
  • Criteo
  • IOG Singapore Pte Ltd
  • Soramitsu
  • Standard Chartered Bank
  • Xfers Pte Ltd.

Some of the finalists are already collaborating with central banks on CBDC software. For example, Consensys, the US-based blockchain software company, has signed a contract to work on the Central Bank of Korea’s CBDC architecture.

Meanwhile, in August, Giesecke+Devrient, a German securities firm, was announced as the partner company for the Bank of Ghana, which is about to kick-start its own CBDC project.

In order to participate in the MAS’ project, competition entrants were invited to address 12 problem statements.

These related to the CBDC instrument, distribution and infrastructure, covering topics such as inclusivity, interoperability and programmability.

The proposals from the finalists sought to address many problem statements through a variety of technological approaches including hardware wallets, digital identity software and asset tokenisation.

All Systems To Go At AUSTRAC

The Australian Transaction Reports and Analysis Centre (AUSTRAC) will change its systems over the next four years to revolutionise the way in which firms submit a variety of reports.

The so-called system transformation programme will replace AUSTRAC Online. The new system aims to be modern and user-friendly, with self-service options.

AUSTRAC, like its Canadian counterpart FINTRAC, is an anti-money-laundering regulator as well as a financial intelligence unit. As part of the "discovery phase", it is seeking comments and help from the firms that it regulates and wants to hear about any problems that might involve its system or the reporting process. Firms should send emails to along with their feedback and contact details.

The body has already received some comments, which so far have highlighted four main problems that firms have when using AUSTRAC Online:

  • The design of the suspicious matter reporting (SMR) process.
  • User experience (UX) and user interface (UI) navigation.
  • Guidance and support.
  • The need for greater automation and introduction of an application programming interface (API).

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