Singapore’s central bank offers cash prizes for digital currency ideas

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The Monetary Authority of Singapore, the country’s central bank and a major financial regulator, is challenging fintech companies to pitch solutions for a central bank digital currency, or CBDC.

On Monday, the central bank officially announced a global challenge that seeks new retail CBDC solutions which enhance payment efficiencies and promote financial inclusion. As part of the initiative, the MAS is planning to distribute 50,000 Singapore dollars, or $37,000 USD at time of publication, to each of three challenge winners. They will also provide expert mentorship to 15 finalists in an effort t encourage rapid development of digital currency solutions.

Singapore’s CBDC challenge is launched in partnership with major global financial institutions including the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank, the Asian Development Bank, the United Nations Capital Development Fund, the United Nations Development Programme, and others. The initiative is also supported by industry players including payment giant MasterCard, Amazon Web Services, R3, Hyperledger, and the Mojaloop Foundation, and managed by the API Exchange and Singapore-based blockchain accelerator Tribe Accelerator.

Global fintech companies and institutions can apply for the CBDC challenge until July 23, the announcement notes.

Related: JPMorgan and DBS to launch blockchain cross-border payment platform

MAS chief fintech officer Sopnendu Mohanty noted that the initiative intends to gather industry solutions for a wide range of policy and technology challenges related to the CBDC development. “MAS hopes to encourage innovator communities worldwide to develop and showcase solutions that can maximise the potential of CBDC to deliver efficiencies to payment services, improve financial inclusion, consistent with central banks’ core mandate of monetary stability,” the exec noted.

Singapore has emerged as a major global player in the digital currency development, actively exploring both CBDC and the crypto industry. The country has been exploring a wholesale CBDC, with the MAS saying last year that the bank didn’t see much demand for a retail CBDC given that the Singaporean payment system infrastructure already features fast and cheap payments. Singapore’s banking giant DBS Private Bank, one of the biggest wealth managers in Asia outside China, launched its own crypto trust solution in May 2021 after establishing a dedicated crypto exchange division last year.


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