Signage outside the entrance of the Reserve Bank of Australia building in Sydney
Signage outside the entrance of the Reserve Bank of Australia building in Sydney, NSW/Australia, photographed on August 23, 2020. Rose Makin/Shutterstock

The Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA) is set to begin exploring the potential use and implications of a wholesale Central Bank Digital Currency (CBDC), the central bank said in a press release on 2 November.

The RBA will conduct the research in partnership with the Commonwealth Bank, the National Australia Bank, financial services company Perpetual, and blockchain company ConsenSys. The collaborative project will focus on the development of a Proof-of-Concept for the issuance of a “tokenized form of CBDC”, that could be used by wholesale market participants for tokenized syndicated loans on an Ethereum-based DLT platform.

The Assistant Governor of the RBA, Michele Bullock, said in a statement:

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“With this project we are aiming to explore the implications of a CBDC for efficiency, risk management and innovation in wholesale financial market transactions. We are pleased to be collaborating with industry partners to explore if there is a future role for a wholesale CBDC in the Australian payments system.”

ConsenSys was chosen as a partner due to its expertise in developing blockchain-based solutions, and its experience with CBDC project. In the past two months, the firm was also chosen to help with Hong Kong’s CBDC project, and Société Générale’s CBDC research efforts.

The Director of ConsenSys Australia, Claudio Lisco, said in a statement:

“We believe that the interoperation of digital assets and CBDCs will be a fundamental building block of the next generation of financial market infrastructure. We are looking forward to collaborating with the RBA, CBA, NAB and Perpetual to experiment with these transformational capabilities and unlocking learnings for the wider industry.”

The new project, however, does not mean that the bank has changed its view of CBDCs, with Bullock saying that its use in the wholesale markets “remains an open question”. Back in September, local news outlet The Australian reported that the RBA was taking a cautious and sceptical stance toward CBDCs, as well as stablecoins. The central bank’s project is expected to be finished by the end of this year, the RBA said, and a report on its findings will be published sometime in 2021.

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