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Ghana partners with German finance firm to pilot digital currency
The Bank of Ghana teams up with Munich-based Giesecke+Devrient (G+D) to pilot a general purpose Central Bank Digital Currency (retail CBDC) in Ghana, West Africa, as a precursor to the issuance of a digital form of the national currency, the Cedi.
Giesecke & Devrient which provides banknote and securities printing services as well as cash-handling systems, is providing the technology and developing the solution adapted to Ghana’s requirements, which will be tested in a trial phase with banks, payment service providers, merchants, consumers and other relevant stakeholders.
The project is part of the 'Digital Ghana Agenda', which involves the digitization of the country of 30 million people and its government services. The digital Cedi, or 'e-Cedi', is intended to complement and serve as a digital alternative to physical cash, thus driving the Ghanaian cashlite agenda through promotion of diverse digital payments, while ensuring a secure and robust payment infrastructure in Ghana. It also aims to facilitate payments without a bank account, contract, or smartphone, by so doing boosting the use of digital services and financial inclusion amongst all demographic groups, the central bank said in a press release.
The project will be divided into three phases: design, implementation and pilot. In the design phase, all framework parameters for the CBDC pilot will be specified and defined. These include economic, regulatory and technical requirements of the country as well as the definition of the parameters for the test phase. In accordance with these individual requirements, G+D's CBDC solution would be adapted for the Ghanaian context in the second phase.
In the pilot phase, a user group of diverse demographic and socio-economic backgrounds will test the solution in the field using different channels and form factors such as mobile apps and smart cards. Over the course of the pilot project, a study will be conducted on the acceptance of the e-Cedi from the end users' perspective. In addition, the IT security of the infrastructure, impact of the project on monetary policy and payment system, and the legal implications will be evaluated. Insights from pilot user experiences would provide Bank of Ghana and G+D with valuable lessons for a nationwide rollout of the e-Cedi.
Dr. Ernest K. Y. Addision, Governor of Bank of Ghana, has stated that
“CBDC presents a great opportunity to build a robust, inclusive, competitive and sustainable financial sector, led by the Central Bank. From all indications, the concept has a significant role to play in the future of financial service delivery globally. This project is a significant step towards positioning Ghana to take full advantage of this emerging concept.”
For his part, Dr. Wolfram Seidemann, CEO of the Giesecke+Devrient Currency Technology business sector said:
"Central banks around the world are exploring the introduction of digital money as legal tender. The Ghanaian government is one of the first African countries now entering a pilot phase. We are proud to support Ghana with our technology and expertise."
According to Coindesk, no definitive timeline for the potential launch of a digital cedi has been given.