France, Singapore, and Switzerland Collaborate on Cross-Border CBDC Experiments

A collaborative effort involving the Bank for International Settlements (BIS) and the central banks of France, Singapore, and Switzerland has successfully concluded a pioneering experiment in cross-border trading and settlement using wholesale central bank digital currencies (CBDCs). The report, released by Banque de France on September 28th, sheds light on this groundbreaking initiative.

Known as “Project Mariana,” this endeavor was jointly developed by Banque de France, the Monetary Authority of Singapore, and the Swiss National Bank, all operating under the auspices of BIS. Project Mariana aimed to test the viability of cross-border transactions involving hypothetical euro, Singapore dollar, and Swiss franc CBDCs. These transactions were simulated between various financial institutions, employing the innovative concepts of decentralized finance (DeFi) technology on a public blockchain.

The core concept relied on the use of a standardized token format on a public blockchain, coupled with bridges facilitating the smooth transfer of CBDCs between disparate networks. Additionally, a specialized decentralized exchange played a pivotal role in automating the trading and settlement of spot foreign exchange transactions.

While the participants hailed the experiment as a success, they also acknowledged the need for continued research and experimentation. The report explicitly underscores that Project Mariana remains an exploratory venture and does not imply any commitment by the partner central banks to issue CBDCs or endorse DeFi or any specific technological solution.

In a related development, Agustín Carstens, the General Manager of BIS, emphasized the importance of clarifying national legal frameworks, especially in countries where central banks do not possess the authority to issue CBDCs. This statement came a day before the public release of Project Mariana’s findings.

BIS continues to champion cross-border CBDC initiatives, with multiple pilot tests underway worldwide. For instance, in September, the central banks of Hong Kong and Israel disclosed the results of their collaborative effort, Project Sela. Additionally, the Hong Kong Monetary Authority CEO, Eddie Yue, announced the expansion of Project mBridge, which already includes central banks from China, Thailand, and the United Arab Emirates, underscoring the global momentum behind cross-border CBDC exploration.

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