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HomeLaw & PoliticsHKMA Launches Phase Two of e-HKD Pilot, Seeks Industry Collaboration

HKMA Launches Phase Two of e-HKD Pilot, Seeks Industry Collaboration

The Hong Kong Monetary Authority (HKMA) has taken a significant step forward in the evolution of digital currency with the launch of phase two of its e-Hong Kong dollar (e-HKD) pilot program. Announced on March 14, this phase aims to delve deeper into the potential applications and benefits of a central bank digital currency (CBDC) in Hong Kong. Building on the foundational work of the first phase, the HKMA is set to explore advanced concepts such as programmability, tokenization, and atomic settlement, while also venturing into new use cases not previously covered.

This ambitious initiative invites industry participants to bring forward their innovative ideas and potential use cases for the e-HKD. With a deadline set for May 17 for submissions, the HKMA is encouraging a collaborative approach to broaden the scope and impact of the digital currency project. The second phase is expected to extend until mid-2025, providing ample time for thorough testing and evaluation of the proposed applications.

To guide applicants, the HKMA has outlined several criteria for consideration, including the uniqueness of the proposal, its potential to enhance consumer experiences, readiness for market testing, compliance with regulatory standards, and the ability to maximize the utility of e-HKD within the region. These guidelines underscore the authority’s commitment to innovation, consumer welfare, and regulatory compliance.

The e-HKD project is a key component of Hong Kong’s “Fintech 2025” strategy, which was unveiled by the HKMA in June 2021. This strategy aligns with the government’s broader ambition to foster the adoption of digital finance within the special administrative region by 2025. The HKMA’s exploration of CBDCs dates back to 2017, demonstrating a long-standing interest in understanding and leveraging the technology to enhance Hong Kong’s financial infrastructure.

The pilot program has already seen participation from major financial institutions, including Visa, which completed a digital Hong Kong dollar pilot test with local banks HSBC and Hang Seng Bank on November 1. This test involved the tokenization of deposits, showcasing a practical application of blockchain technology in the context of a CBDC.

As the HKMA embarks on this next phase of the e-HKD pilot, it is clear that the authority is not only exploring the technical feasibility of a digital currency but also its potential to revolutionize the financial landscape in Hong Kong. By inviting industry collaboration, the HKMA aims to ensure that the e-HKD, once fully developed, will be well-positioned to meet the diverse needs of the market and contribute to the territory’s goal of becoming a leading digital finance hub.

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