As central banks across the world experiment with different types and versions of digital currencies, a new cross-industry consortium has launched in the UK to test payment rails for the global financial system.
The Digital Financial Market Infrastructure (DFMI) is the body behind Project New Era, the UK’s first privately-led pilot set to evaluate the path towards a digital currency ecosystem in the UK, including regulated stablecoins and retail central bank digital currencies (CBDCs) in the country.
Made up of commercial banks, payment providers, telecommunications providers, fintechs, NFT ecosytems and digital currency exchanges, members of the DFMI Consortium currently include IBM, Finastra, FinClusive, Ibanera, paywith.glass, Mattereum, Trust Payments and Accomplish Financial. Additional members are expected to join for the launch of the UK pilot.
The industry initiative is under the coordination of Dutch financial infrastructure group paywith.glass SIG, with Boston Consulting Group as its consulting partner, and support from The Payments Association. Official global advisors include Rosa & Roubini Associates as macroeconomic advisors, Simmons & Simmons as legal counsel and Farrant Group providing strategic communications.
Project New Era
Project New Era officially launched on the final day of the Money 20/20 fintech conference in Amsterdam in June with a panel featuring Lord Anthony St John, Dr. Lisa Cameron MP, Brunello Rosa of Rosa & Roubini Associates), Paul Sisnett at SMD Group / paywith.glass), Kunal Jhanji from BCG and Nicole Sandler at Barclays.
Plans for the consortium and Project New Era were first mooted earlier this year with the launch of The Green Paper, a report which examined the potential for CBDCs and proposes a journey towards their widespread adoption.
Brunello Rosa, CEO and head of research at Rosa & Roubini Associates, comments: “Currently, 105 countries (representing over 95 per cent of global GDP) are exploring paths towards a CBDC, while 10 countries have now fully launched a digital currency. The market continues to develop at a tremendous pace, with the British government having announced plans to make the UK a global crypto hub, the ECB declaring recently that CBDCs could be the ‘Holy Grail’ of cross-border payments, and the Fed exploring a digital dollar with increasing urgency.”
The consortium intends to use the blueprint set out by Project New Era to launch private-sector pilots in multiple jurisdictions across the world.
“The world is undergoing a financial revolution from which there is no turning back,” says Kunal Jhanji, managing director and partner at Boston Consulting Group. “With the advent of DLT and blockchain technology, digital assets are ushering in a new era for money, with potentially transformative benefits for consumers, businesses, financial institutions and states. The industry needs to now come together to help the lawmakers and central banks shape the design and regulatory aspects of the biggest change we will see in the payments ecosystem in our lifetimes.”
According to Alison Conway, head of strategic development at Trust Payments, digital currencies and CBDCs offer a unique opportunity to design a playbook that drives interoperability while offering tangible benefits to both merchants and consumers.
“With global uncertainty and the demand for trust and transparency increasing, now is the time to build the platform and create the ecosystem that will shape the next generation of UK commerce and the broader monetary system that underpins it,” she says.
The Digital FMI Consortium is also inviting more ‘world leading financial services firms’ to join its mission to usher in a new era for money.