Countries like the Bahamas and Thailand are on the leading edge of CBDC development, according to a new research report.
A new ranking of global central bank digital currencies, or CBDCs, places the Bahamas at the top of the leaderboard in terms of retail applications — offering an important glimpse in the race to issue government-backed cryptocurrencies.
In its 2021 “CBDC global index,” consulting firm PwC surveyed the level of central-bank maturity in deploying cryptocurrencies based on two factors: retail applications and interbank applications. Retail applications refer to CBDCs that can be held and transacted directly by individuals and companies in the form of digital cash. Interbank, or wholesale, CBDCs, meanwhile, are restricted to major financial institutions for settlement.
“More than 60 central banks have already entered the central bank digital currency race,” said Benoit Sureau, a PwC partner for the France and Maghreb region. He described CBDCs as a “game-changer” that will provide “access to alternative payment solutions for citizens and corporates.”
The retail CBDC ranking gave the Bahamas a score of 92 out of 100 to lead all other countries. Cambodia was a distant second at 83, followed by Mainland China (75) and Ukraine (71).
The Bahamas scored favorably due to the successful implementation of its so-called Sand Dollar in October 2020. Backed by the Central Bank of The Bahamas, the Sand Dollar is a digital version of the national currency issued through authorized financial institutions. As PwC notes:
“All residents can access the digital wallet through the mobile application or a physical payment card. The records collected during daily operations, such as income and spending information, can support applications for micro-loans.”
As Cointelegraph recently reported, the Sand Dollar is nearing commercial rollout after achieving full interoperability between various wallet providers.
Although mainland China began developing its retail CBDC in 2014, the country failed to crack the top 10, according to PwC.
Project maturity for interbank CBDCs is being led by Thailand and Hong Kong, both of which achieved a score of 80 out of 100. Singapore is third, with a score of 75, followed by Canada (69), the United Kingdom (68) and France (64).
Thailand has been eyeing CBDC development since at least 2018, achieving a successful prototype the following year.