That is the story of how Velmie empowered the Tunisian Central Bank with blockchain payment software to run a pilot project of introducing CDBC wallet.
What is CBDC (Central Bank Digital Currency or National Digital Currency)?
CBDC uses an electronic record or digital token to represent the virtual form of a fiat currency of a particular nation or region [Source: Investopedia]. It is a state-issued and regulated digital asset (by the competent monetary authority of the country — central bank) in comparison to cryptocurrencies that operate via blockchain in a decentralized way.
Thus, CBDC provides multiple benefits like faster, less costly transactions and high security. Moreover, this approach is also able to enhance financial inclusion because there’s no need for people to have a bank account to hold such currencies.
This makes a national digital currency a prospective solution for many developing countries and those with a significant proportion of the population who don’t have access to affordable and secure payment services. Tunisia follows in the footsteps of other countries looking to leverage blockchain technology to become cashless economies. For them, digital currency could combat money-laundering, decrease the country’s gray economy, and at the same time empower women and weaker segments of the Tunisian population.
The Challenges Faced
La Poste Tunisienne, the Tunisian postal service, a leader in financial & social inclusion, is the first organization in Tunisia to introduce e-payment & m-payment. Our client identified several challenges that were preventing the local society from the better growth with the help of digital financial services:
- Tunisian currency TND is a non-convertible currency.
- Tunisians living in Tunisia are not allowed to have a bank account or a virtual wallet that isn’t under the Tunisian financial regulation.
- Cryptocurrency is not officially authorized to be introduced or even used in Tunisia.
- Heavy regulation to prevent money laundering is discouraging innovative solutions to be fostered or introduced.
Together with DigiCash and the Central Bank of Tunisia, they set up a working group to study blockchain, digital payments, and cryptocurrencies to explore how to leverage this technology in order to address the challenges and create a national digital currency.
The Solution to Introduce Digital Payment System on Blockchain
The solution agreed was to launch a national blockchain-based digital payment system. In order to make it right, our client needed a partner with both profound software development expertise including blockchain, and an understanding of digital financial services.
Thus, the client partnered with Velmie to run a pilot project that enables mobile payments through a private blockchain network across the country. We developed a crafted solution that supports simpler, more secure ways of initiating payments.
- Today’s typical banking system is regulated: Centralized Ledgers.
- Blockchain is a P2P-based technology and is not a cryptocurrency that might need to be regulated.
- Different levels of decentralization -> Distributed Ledgers.
- Level 1: Permissioned, Private, Shared Ledgers.
- Level 2: Permissioned, Public, Shared Ledgers
- Level 3: Permission-less, Public, Shared Ledgers.
- Possible implementation considering sovereignty requirements in emergent economies.
- Possible adoption by the UPU .POST Community: PostTransfer Systems.
Mobile Payment Platform Features:
- Reliable, scalable and cost-effective cloud computing back-end system hosted on Amazon Web Services (AWS).
- Private blockchain network on Hyperledger for fast and secure transactional processing.
- Microservices architecture to effectively handle product updates and growth.
- Web interface and mobile wallet apps for iOS and Android.
- Security best practices implemented.
- Compliance-ready software.
Central Bank Digital Currency Improving Financial Services Accessibility
The MVP developed for a project of the Central Bank of Tunisia, Tunisian Post, and DigiCash is the first step towards introducing Tunisian e-Dinar, the central bank digital currency of the North African country. Distributed ledger technology, blockchain, is fostering deep change in the Tunisian financial sector towards openness and accessibility of financial services.