Central Banks in MENA region could be the first to issue Digital Currencies

IBM participates in the SAMA, UAE Central Bank Digital currency project


During the IBMTHINK event in Sanfrancisco, UNLOCK blockchain interviewed Mr. Jesse Lund, Global Vice President IBM Blockchain. He was the moderator of the panel “Crypto Assets how are they being used to make payments on Blockchain.”

According to Mr. Lund many central banks are currently studying the idea of issuing a digital currency. When asked by UNLOCK who he thinks will be the first in the region to issue digital currency his reply was, “ We have been in discussions with various central banks in the region including Saudi Arabian Monetary Authority, the UAE Central Bank, Moroccan Central Bank, Egyptian Central Bank, and Qatar Central bank. If these central banks could get together that would be great and we as a technology partner would try to make it into a reality.”

According to Lund, “the most obvious to move forward would be the small countries whose monetary policies are pegged to the dollar so it becomes a proxy for a more stable currency if the local fiat currency didn’t work.”

As for first movers Lund stated, “It is hard to say we are in active conversations with SAMA (Saudi Arabian Monetary Authority), UAE, Qatar, Morocco, Egypt. We are working with SAMA and the UAE Central bank on the digital currency project. He adds, “We were in early on the SAMA UAE project. We were involved in response to their RFP (Request for Proposal). We actually provided them with some information we had developed internally out of the IBM research group on token lifecycle management which is similar to monetary lifecycle management, that starts from the creation to redemption all the way down and that was the basis of some of the work they are doing already. So yes we have been involved.”  

According to the Bank of International Settlements report issued on January 2019, the majority of Central Banks are studying digital currencies. However most of them are unlikely to issue a digital currency in the near future. Of the 63 banks surveyed 70% states they are either currently working on something or will be soon.

During the Crypto session at IBMTHINK, Lund posed this question to the panelists. Tammy Kamp CEO of Stronghold believes that Central banks will issue a digital currency in the next 6 months. Jed Mcacaleb President of Stellar Development Foundation stated, “We will see pilots in the next three years, as for the Federal Reserve maybe in the next 20 years. Mr. Michael Warner, Senior Strategist at Federal Reserve Bank in SanFrancisco stated, “If you get money right couple it with intelligence creating a smart multiparty secure computational network then maybe we will see a digital currency.”

In conclusion, it might be more than likely that the first Central Bank digital currencies will actually come from the Middle East.

Lara Abdul Malak

Lara has been a journalist and writer in the technology field since her graduation from AUB majoring in political science. She has had career in corporation communications in the telecom sector and was part of the launch of first 3G network in the GCC and MENA region. Since her return to journalism she has been focused with passion on blockchain, tokenization, crypto focusing on the GCC and MENA region.

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