- Project Dunbar developed two prototypes for a shared platform that could enable international
settlements using digital currencies issued by multiple central banks.
- The platform was designed to facilitate direct cross-border transactions between financial
institutions in different currencies, with the potential to cut costs and increase speed.
- The project identified challenges of implementing a multi-CBDC platform shared across central banks
and proposes practical design solutions to address them.
The Bank for International Settlements (BIS) Innovation Hub, the Reserve Bank of Australia, Bank Negara
Malaysia, the Monetary Authority of Singapore, and the South African Reserve Bank today announced the
completion of prototypes for a common platform enabling international settlements using multiple central
bank digital currencies (mCBDCs).
Led by the Innovation Hub’s Singapore Centre, Project Dunbar proved that financial institutions could
use CBDCs issued by participating central banks to transact directly with each other on a shared
platform. This has the potential to reduce reliance on intermediaries and, correspondingly, the costs and
time taken to process cross-border transactions.
The project was organised along three workstreams: one focusing on high-level functional requirements and
design, and two concurrent technical streams that developed prototypes on different technological
platforms (Corda and Partior).
The project identified three critical questions: which entities should be allowed to hold and transact
with CBDCs issued on the platform? How could the flow of cross-border payments be simplified while
respecting regulatory differences across jurisdictions? What governance arrangements could give countries
sufficient comfort to share critical national infrastructure such as a payments system?
The project proposed practical solutions for addressing these issues, which were validated through the
development of prototypes that demonstrated the technical viability of shared multi-CBDC platforms for
‘A common platform is the most efficient model for payments connectivity but is also the most
challenging to achieve. Project Dunbar demonstrated that key concerns of trust and shared control can be
addressed through governance mechanisms enforced by robust technological means, laying the foundation for
the development of future global and regional platforms,’ said Andrew McCormack, Head of the BIS
Innovation Hub Centre in Singapore.
The project’s findings also affirmed that any such arrangement should be subject to the governance
deemed appropriate by central bank participants, including allowing them to retain control of the
application of rules on a jurisdictional and currency level.
The details and conclusions of the project were published today in a report that supports the efforts of
the G20 roadmap for enhancing cross-border payments, particularly in exploring an international
dimension of CBDC design.
‘Project Dunbar has provided valuable insights into the opportunities and challenges associated with
developing a shared platform for multiple CBDCs to enhance cross-border payments. Allowing entities to
directly hold and transact in CBDCs from different jurisdictions could reduce the need for intermediaries
in cross-border payments, but it would need to be done in a way that preserves the security and
resilience of these payments. While there is clearly more work to be done in thinking about the
feasibility and design of multi-CBDC platforms, the findings from Project Dunbar provide a good platform
for future work in this area,’ said Michele Bullock, Assistant Governor (Financial System), Reserve
Bank of Australia.