Interoperability was at the centre of Tuesday’s CBDC discussion at Sibos, with the panel investigating how to ensure that these incoming digital currencies will work at the cross-border level.
Swift is in the process of working with central banks and financial institutions on beta tests of an experimental method for interlinking CBDCs with existing fiat infrastructures.
The cooperative’s Nick Kerigan argued that interoperability should be front of mind early on in the CBDC development process in order to avoid some of the issues that have been seen with national payment systems.
David Ballaschk from the Deutsche Bundesbank and Hariram Chakraborthy Janakiraman from ANZ agreed that we will not see a standard CBDC, and that interoperability is the best that can be hoped for.
That is where initiatives such as Swift’s sandbox come in, providing a global platform for collaboration. Janakiraman told the audience that it is important to ensure that the sector does not have to worry about how they connect to different blockchains and tokens so that it can focus on use cases.
Adeline Bachellerie from Banque de France said that the central banks have to work with all ecosystem players, from Swift to fintechs, in order to guard against fragmentation.
Meanwhile, in a session on embedded finance, Citi’s Amit Agarwal gave some insight into how the bank is approaching the rise of platforms. In China, there are giant platforms that have untold thousands of small sellers selling to buyers from around the world.
How can Citi help smooth the process? By providing collection services, digital payment acceptance, payout solutions and help with FX.
To demonstrate the changing needs of clients, Agarwal offered an example of a ride hailing company that is a Citi client. This firm would pay hundreds of thousands of drivers every Tuesday for the week. But now drivers want to be able to access their money 24/7.
Not only do these firms want different things they also are seeing exponential growth. One platform client processed a few thousand payments a day a couple of years ago, yesterday that same firm was at 8.5 million.
The rise of platforms also raises regulatory issues for banks such as Citi. The risk profile is considerably higher than when doing payroll for a blue-chip client because the bank is one step closer to buyer and seller on the platform - neither of which are Citi’s client.