MAS blockchain payment project moves into fifth phase

MAS blockchain payment project moves into fifth phase

The Monetary Authority of Singapore says it has engaged with more than 40 financial and non-financial firms to determine the commercial viability and value of its blockchain-based prototype for multi-currency payments.

MAS says the prototype network, developed in collaboration with JPMorgan and Temasek, has the potential to improve cost efficiencies for businesses. It is currently undergoing industry testing to determine its ability to integrate with commercial blockchain applications.

The outreach programme marks the fifth phase of the central bank's experiment with distributed ledger technologies, operating under the moniker Project Ubin. The fourth phase, completed in May this year, saw MAS team up with the central Bank of Canada's Jasper project in an effort to exchange digital currencies across their respective networks.

The Jasper-Ubin project was carried out in partnership with Accenture and JP Morgan, who supported the development of the Canadian network on Corda, and the Singapore network on Quorum, respectively.

With the experiment deemed a success, the partners published a report outlining different design options for cross-border settlement systems and offering suggestions for new areas of research to push the ideas forward.

John Hunter, global head of clearing and Interbank Information Network (IIN), JPMorgan, says: “JP Morgan is excited to be an infrastructure partner of MAS and Temasek for Phase 5 of Project Ubin. By leveraging our key learnings from building the Interbank Information Network and the JPM Coin, JPMorgan is well-positioned to support the development of a blockchain-based payments network and operate at scale.”

Accenture has been commissioned to publish a final project report in early 2020. This will describe the use cases that would benefit from a blockchain-based payments network, and set out additional features that the network could provide. In addition, the technical specifications for the connectivity interfaces that were developed will also be released for public access under Apache License Version 2.0.

Sopnendu Mohanty, chief fintech officer, MAS, says: “There is growing evidence now that blockchain-based payments networks are able to enhance cost efficiencies and create new opportunities for businesses. We hope this development will encourage other central banks to conduct similar trials, and we will make the technical specifications publicly accessible to accelerate these efforts. We look forward to linking up with more blockchain networks to improve cross-border connectivity. This will be a big step forward in making cross-border transactions faster, cheaper, and safer.”

Elsewhere in Asia, the Hong Kong Monetary Authority has announced ja oint research with Bank of Thailand named Project LionRock-Inthanon to study the application of Central Bank Digital Currency (CBDC) to cross-border payments, with a view to facilitating HKD-THB payment-versus-payment (PvP) among banks in Hong Kong and Thailand. A joint report is scheduled to be released in Q1 2020.

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