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Which Countries Have CBDCs?

Many countries are already developing their own CBDCs — who’s leading the pack?

By Cryptopedia Staff

Updated March 14, 20213 min read

Gemini-Which Countries Have CBDCs


In response to the global rise of digital payment solutions, central banks around the world are working towards creating their own central bank digital currencies (CBDCs). CBDCs are digital representations of central bank-issued money that can be built on a blockchain or distributed ledger. Some countries, such as China and the Marshall Islands, already have plans to launch CBDCs, while others like South Korea and Canada are exploring issuing their own CBDCs.

As cryptocurrencies and other digital payment solutions are becoming more popular, central banks have increasingly shown interest in developing their own answer to these technologies in the form of central bank digital currencies (CBDCs). Central bank digital currencies are digital representations of a country’s government-issued, central bank-controlled money (also known as fiat money). But how widespread is the interest in CBDCs? And which countries have plans to implement CBDCs?

As of December 2020, most CBDCs are in the proposal or proof-of-concept stage, and have yet to be implemented. Nonetheless, a 2020 survey by the publication Central Banking found that central banks in 46 countries have been researching CBDCs, indicating widespread global interest.

Let’s take a closer look at several proposed CBDCs.


Perhaps the most prominent CBDC project being implemented at this time is China’s digital renminbi or Digital Currency/Electronic Payments (DCEP) initiative, which was in trials as of Q4 2020 and is working towards a phased release. China embarked on the project in 2014 and has positioned its development as a direct challenge to the global dominance of the U.S. dollar. While details of the project are still emerging, reports suggest that DCEP will use Distributed Ledger Technology (DLT), is intended to replace cash in circulation, and will be distributed through digital wallets.

The Bahamas

As of 2020, The Central Bank of The Bahamas was preparing to launch the Sand Dollar, a digital version of its Bahamian dollar, which could potentially become the first active CBDC in the world. The Sand Dollar — which was piloted on the islands of Exuma and Abacos in 2019 — intends to make digital payment technologies more accessible to underserved communities. Users will be required to go through Know Your Customer (KYC) and Anti-Money Laundering (AML) compliance processes before transacting with the Sand Dollar.

The Marshall Islands

The Marshall Islands plan to launch Marshallese Sovereign, a CBDC built on the Algorand blockchain whose purpose is to promote financial inclusion. Users will need to undergo verification processes before they can use the CBDC but the Marshallese government has emphasized that the CBDC will preserve users’ privacy.


In 2017, Sweden’s Riksbank began piloting a CBDC called e-krona due to the declining use of cash in retail payments. In 2010, approximately 40% of payments in Sweden were made in cash, but by 2016 that number had dropped to 15%. The Swedish Riksbank has proposed that DLT could be the foundation for a future e-krona, and began testing an e-krona based on R3’s Corda platform in partnership with Accenture in 2020.

European Union

The European Central Bank (ECB) has also explored releasing a CBDC, the digital euro, arguing that it could be a means to adapt to the continuing digitalization of the global economy. Likewise, the ECB has said that it may issue a CBDC if foreign CBDCs or “private digital payments” — likely referencing cryptocurrencies — are widely adopted in Europe. The ECB has said its CBDC infrastructure could be centralized or decentralized, potentially utilizing DLT. European Union electronic payment regulations, which require compliance with Anti-Money Laundering and counter-terrorism laws would make the possibility of anonymous transactions unlikely. The ECB plans to consider whether it should initiate a CBDC project around mid-2021.

Other CBDCs

Limited-use CBDCs have also been proposed to help streamline important financial infrastructure services like interbank payments and settlement processes instead of for general public use. The Monetary Authority of Singapore’s (MAS) Project Ubin is an example of such a project and was launched in 2016 to explore the application of DLT for the clearing and settlement of payments and securities within an interbank network. MAS has collaborated with JP Morgan and Singaporean investment company Temasek on the project, and has tested the technology with more than 40 companies.

In addition to the aforementioned projects, South Korea, Japan, the United Kingdom, Canada, and others are considering launching CBDCs as well. While the U.S. does not yet have plans to launch a CBDC, the Federal Reserve has said that it is exploring how it could digitize the dollar in the future.

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