A consortium of institutions led by Euroclear have successfully experimented central bank digital currency (CBDC) for settling French treasury bonds on a test blockchain. The experiment, commissioned by the Banque de France included Agence France Trésor, BNP Paribas CIB, Crédit Agricole CIB, HSBC, and Societe Generale. IBM provided Euroclear with design expertise and all platform features, including advanced privacy-preserving tokens and hybrid cloud capabilities.
The objective of the experiment was to assess if a wide range of operations and functionalities can be run on a blockchain platform and identify, from a user point of view, the added value of blockchain technology. The full scope of the experiment covered a large range of core securities settlement operations including securities issuance, primary market and secondary market trades, liquidity optimization, and mechanisms like repo and interest payments.
The experiment also demonstrated that a blockchain platform can coexist and interoperate with existing market infrastructure and is part of a wider Banque de France initiative commissioned in March 2020, to test the integration of a central bank digital currency (CBDC) using innovative procedures for the exchange and settlement of tokenized financial assets between financial intermediaries. In addition to its role as architect of the CBDC experiment program, Banque de France participated, by acting as the central bank issuing and distributing the CBDC.
Isabelle Delorme, deputy CEO of Euroclear France, Euroclear Belgium and Euroclear Nederland, collectively known as Euroclear Settlement for Euronext Zone Securities Central Securities Depositories (ESES CSDs), said in a statement: “Together, we have been able to measure the degree to which the issuance of CBDC can offer fast and secure settlement of tokenized securities. We are well aware that there are still challenges that need to be overcome before we can envisage the implementation of blockchain platforms in production as we continue to investigate all routes to drive efficiencies for our clients.”
Some of the challenges ahead identified in the report are tech maturity and DLT platform management, as well as interoperability with other platforms.