JAN 31, 2024
UAE initiates landmark cross-border digital dirham payment
In a historic move, Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Deputy Prime Minister and Chairman of the Board of the Central Bank of the United Arab Emirates (UAE), executed the first cross-border payment for the UAE’s central bank digital currency (CBDC), the “Digital Dirham.”
According to local news source Gulf News, the transaction, valued at 50 million dirhams ($13.6 million), was conducted directly with China through mBridge. mBridge is a multi-CBDC platform which has been developed to support peer-to-peer cross-border payments in real time. The blockchain-based system was established by the Bank of International Settlements (BIS), in conjunction with the central banks of Hong Kong, Thailand, China and the UAE. The project has an additional 23 central banks and the IMF involved as observers.
It’s thought that mBridge can play a vital role for nations to circumvent the use of the U.S. dollar for international trade purposes. Within each participant country, the project has onboarded multiple commercial banks.
Marking CBUAE’s 50th anniversary
Sheikh Mansour carried out this groundbreaking payment during a celebration commemorating the 50th anniversary of the Central Bank of the UAE (CBUAE). The event also witnessed the graduation of the inaugural batch of 1,056 citizens from the “Ethraa” program, a high-level training initiative at the Emirates Institute of Finance aimed at fostering Emirati representation in the financial sector.
The ceremony, held at the Abu Dhabi National Exhibition Center, showcased the significant progress and development the CBUAE has undergone over its 50-year history. The apex bank has played a pivotal role in strengthening financial and monetary stability, contributing to economic growth, and implementing innovative projects as part of the Financial Infrastructure Transformation Programme (FIT program) to accelerate digital transformation in the financial services sector.
Sheikh Mansour emphasized the leadership’s commitment to solidifying the UAE’s position as a global financial center, praising the CBUAE’s role in enhancing financial and monetary stability, ensuring efficiency in the financial system and supporting economic growth and development. He underscored the leadership’s dedication to empowering UAE nationals to become fintech specialists, providing them with skills and knowledge to contribute to the nation’s progress.
The Vice-President also commended the efforts of all CBUAE employees, the Emirates Institute of Finance and the graduates of the Ethraa program, expressing his best wishes for their success in serving the nation.
During the event, Sheikh Mansour was briefed on the services offered by the “Aani” instant payment platform, designed to facilitate fast, secure and convenient fund transfers. He also witnessed the launch of “Open Finance,” allowing consumers to connect and share data across the entire financial ecosystem, and the visual identity of the Ombudsman Unit called “Sanadak,” the first independent unit for settling banking and insurance disputes in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region.
According to data from the Atlantic Council, 130 nations, accounting for 98% of global GDP, have made some efforts towards exploring the adoption of a CBDC. 11 countries have actually launched a CBDC and 19 of the G20 economies are at the advanced development stage. Meanwhile, a survey report published by the BIS last summer revealed an expectation among central banks that by 2030, we could see the launch of nine wholesale CBDCs and 15 retail CBDCs.