Bank issued digital tokens could be the future of financial inclusion

February 16, 2023 - 10:51
Central Bank Digital Currency could help countries achieve financial stability by offering more resilience, greater availability, faster payment processing, and lower transaction costs than private forms of digital money.

CBDC’s popularity has been surging

Central Bank Digital Currency (CBDC) is a digital token issued and regulated by a central bank in a particular country.

Dr Vu Thi Hong Nhung, Economics lecturer at The Business School (formerly School of Business & Management), RMIT Vietnam, explained: “It has some similar characteristics to cryptocurrency and value pegged to the country’s fiat currency. However, CBDC may differ from other cryptocurrencies because of its non-anonymised transactions due to the centralised form of currency.”

Based on the data from CBDC Tracker in December 2022, 114 countries, representing more than 95 per cent of global GDP, have explored diverse proposals for CBDC design, access, and infrastructure. Compared to May 2020, only 35 countries considered a CBDC.

Currently, 60 countries have achieved advanced phases of development, pilot and launch of CBDCs. 11 countries, including the Bahamas, Nigeria, and countries in the Eastern Caribbean Currency Union, have fully launched a digital currency.

From December 2022, all G7 economies have transferred from the research stage to the development stage of a CBDC. Eighteen out of the G20 countries are in the advanced stage of CBDC development, showing considerable progress and new resource investment.

In 2023, over 20 countries will take significant steps towards continuing or starting piloting a CBDC, including Australia, Thailand, Brazil, India, South Korea, and Russia. Countries testing CBDCs in pilot projects include Sweden, China, Jamaica, and Ukraine.

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114 countries, representing more than 95 per cent of global GDP, have explored diverse proposals for CBDC design, access, and infrastructure (Source: Freepik).

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“China’s CBDC pilot has reached 260 million people and is scheduled to extend to a majority of the nation by 2023,” Dr Nhung said.

Implications of CBDC in Viet Nam

The Vietnamese government recently announced that it would work with its central bank to develop a pilot programme for CBDC implementation. This crucial step shows that the government is committed to developing this innovative technology and successfully implementing it on a scale.

RMIT Economics lecturer Dr Bui Duy Tung said: “CBDC, based on blockchain technology, contributes to the modernisation of the payment system by facilitating financial institutions and fintech companies in applying and testing modern technologies, thereby promoting the digital economy in Viet Nam.

“CBDC improves payment system reliability, safety, and risk reduction through transparency, verification, and security. CBDC is also a platform that assists the Vietnamese banking system in successfully implementing the digital transformation roadmap.”

Dr Vu Thi Hong Nhung (left) and Dr Bui Duy Tung (right).

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CBDC would promote financial inclusion in Viet Nam by allowing more people to access financial services, especially those without bank accounts in remote areas. In addition, CBDC can be used in areas that do not have Internet connections, enabling people to conduct financial transactions at low cost using simple, widely available electronic devices.

CBDC provides an efficient and effective tool for implementing monetary policy in Viet Nam. Issuing CBDCs allows the SBV to control the money supply accurately. As a result, the policy lags would be reduced further, thus improving the efficiency and effectiveness of monetary regulation.

However, Dr Tung anticipated that some essential questions must be answered before this happens. First, it would require significant regulatory reform to allow the government to issue the digital currency - and even then, they would need to verify that they were doing so correctly before getting approval from international bodies such as the IMF and World Bank.

Some essential questions must be answered prior to Viet Nam’s CBDC implementation (Source: Pexels).

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Secondly, the country needs to upgrade its national digital infrastructure to be compatible with the issuance of CBDCs in Viet Nam. Learning experiences from other countries which have piloted and launched CBDCs are especially useful for Viet Nam to minimise difficulties and problems in the research stage and the development stage of our CBDCs.

RMIT drives digital transformation

CBDC and its implications was an intriguing topic presented at the RMIT Fintech-Blockchain Conference taking place in December 2022. This inaugural academic conference attracted academics and researchers from all around the world to share ideas on the digital economy, financial technology, blockchain, CBDCs, new types of digital digital Web3 businesses and related areas.

It also helped strengthen RMIT's leading role in the world in frontier digital technologies in business, finance, and economics.

RMIT Vietnam has started to offer the Blockchain Enabled Business major in Semester 3 2022, which is one of the first multidisciplinary business focused Blockchain majors in the world. RMIT Senior Program Manager of Blockchain Enabled Business and Fintech-Crypto Hub coordinator Dr Nguyen Thanh Binh commented: “Graduates from this major will transform traditional industries and create new Web3 products and services for the digital economy and society.” 

RMIT was ranked as the second-best university in the world in Blockchain and Cryptofinance in 2021 by CoinDesk in conjunction with Stanford University. In addition, within the program of World Blockchain Summit MARVELS HCMC 2022 taking place in Vietnam last December, RMIT was also honored as Pioneer University in Blockchain training & education at the Vietnam Blockchain Awards (VNBA).