HKMA: Project mBridge set for minimum viable product by the middle of 2024

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The Hong Kong Monetary Authority (HKMA) has unveiled that the mBridge project is expected to introduce a minimum viable product by the middle of 2024. If mBridge’s implementation is successful, it may pose a challenge to Swift’s leading payment system and could influence similar shifts in payment methods across different regions.

Developed in partnership by the central banks of China, Hong Kong, Thailand, and the UAE, mBridge serves as a unified CBDC platform. Its efforts are synchronised through the Bank for International Settlements (BIS). Notably, Tencent, which owns WeChat Pay and the WeChat app, is reported by the Chinese media to be among the key participants.

While mBridge continues its development, approximately 20 central banks are being kept in the loop about its trial advancements. The Saudi Arabian Monetary Authority (SAMA) has shown enthusiasm in exchanging experiences with the mBridge team but has not yet committed to joining the initiative.

In parallel, the HKMA is also conducting trials for eHKD, a retail-focused CBDC. During an interview with the South China Morning Post, Eddie Yue, HKMA’s CEO, highlighted the significance of identifying practical applications. He stated that they are still in the early stages, emphasising the need for any new system to surpass the current retail payments in terms of speed, safety, or convenience.

With a diverse set of use cases in mind, the eHKD trials involve 16 institutions. For instance, HSBC recently provided eHKD to approximately 200 individuals at the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology Business School, which they used at select campus outlets.

Eddie Yue went on to mention intriguing applications of eHKD in programmable payments, as well as in novel areas such as tokenized deposits and assets. Furthermore, Standard Chartered is delving into the potential programmable aspects of a CBDC.

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