Mastercard has announced a new virtual testing platform for Central Bank Digital Currencies (CBDCs).
In a Wednesday (Sept. 9) news release, Mastercard said a recent survey revealed 80 percent of central banks are engaged in some form of CBDCs, while 40 percent have moved from research to experimenting with concept and design, according to by the Bank for International Settlements.
The testing tool comes as the global economy embraces digital payments and central banks investigate how to support innovation while maintaining financial stability as they issue the currency.
Mastercard’s testing platform allows banks to simulate the issuance, distribution and exchange of CBDCs between banks, financial service providers and consumers.
“Central banks have accelerated their exploration of digital currencies with a variety of objectives, from fostering financial inclusion to modernizing the payments ecosystem,” said Mastercard Executive Vice President Raj Dhamodharan in a statement. “This new platform supports central banks as they make decisions now and in the future about the path forward for local and regional economies.”
Sheila Warren, head of blockchain at the World Economic Forum, the Swiss-based trade group, said collaborations between the public and private sectors in the exploration of CBDC can help central banks understand the range of technology possibilities.
“Central banks can benefit from support in exploring the option set available to them with respect to CBDCs, as well as gaining insight into what opportunities may be forthcoming,” she added.
Launched through Mastercard’s Accelerate program, cryptocurrency platform Wirex will be Mastercard’s first partner. The Mastercard-branded payment cards promise to allow consumers to pay with cryptocurrency.
“We’ve been working with crypto-wallet providers for some time now, and what we’re announcing today is about really making it easy for consumers to be able to spend their crypto in a secure and compliant way, no matter what their cryptocurrency holdings are, at all Mastercard locations worldwide,” Dhamodharan told PYMNTS at the time.