Central Bank Digital Currency

The Reserve Bank is actively researching central bank digital currency (CBDC) as a complement to existing forms of money.

The Reserve Bank currently issues two forms of money:

  1. physical money in the form of banknotes, which can be used by households and businesses to make payments, and
  2. digital money in the form of balances held in accounts that commercial banks and some other types of financial institutions can hold at the Reserve Bank to settle payment obligations between each other.

A CBDC would be a new digital form of money issued by the Reserve Bank. It could be designed for retail (or general purpose) use, which would be like a digital version of banknotes that is essentially universally accessible, or for wholesale use, where it is accessible only to a more limited range of wholesale market participants for use in wholesale payment and settlement systems.

A CBDC could potentially support a number of the Bank's policy objectives, including safeguarding public trust in money and promoting efficiency, safety, resilience and innovation in payment systems and financial market infrastructures.

Our research has been looking at various possible use cases, exploring the potential benefits, opportunities and challenges associated with CBDC, and examining how a CBDC could be designed and developed if a decision was ever taken to implement one. Distributed ledger technology (DLT) is one possible technology platform we have been exploring that could be used to implement a CBDC. We have been collaborating with external parties on this research and will continue to do so.

Projects

Digital Finance Cooperative Research Centre

The Bank is participating in the Digital Finance Cooperative Research Centre (DFCRC), which brings together industry, academic, and regulatory stakeholders to investigate the opportunities arising from asset tokenisation. We are currently in discussions with the DFCRC about a collaborative research project on CBDC that could support the DFCRC and its partners’ research into digital finance.

Digital Finance Cooperative Research Centre Announcement

Project Atom

A collaborative project undertaken in 2020–2021 between the Reserve Bank, Commonwealth Bank of Australia, National Australia Bank, Perpetual and ConsenSys, with additional input from King & Wood Mallesons. The project involved the development of a proof of concept for the issuance of a tokenised form of CBDC that could be used by wholesale market participants for the funding, settlement and repayment of a tokenised syndicated loan on an Ethereum-based DLT platform.

Project Atom report 780KB

Project Dunbar

A collaborative project undertaken in 2021–2022 between the BIS Innovation Hub, the Reserve Bank of Australia, Bank Negara Malaysia, Monetary Authority of Singapore and the South African Reserve Bank. The project explored whether using a shared DLT platform for issuing multiple wholesale CBDCs could improve the efficiency, speed and transparency of cross-border payments.

Project Dunbar report 4.7MB

Project Dunbar website

Media release issued on 22 March 2022

Other publications