According to WAM news agency, as part of UAE’s Central Bank 50th anniversary, His Highness Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Vice President, Deputy Prime Minister, Chairman of the Presidential Court and Chairman of the Board of the Central Bank of the UAE (CBUAE), made the first ever CBDC, digital currency cross border payment transaction to China utilizing the Mbridge Blockchain platform.

This amounts to a $13.6 million transaction sent directly to China through the ‘BIS M Bridge’ platform DLT.

Prior to this, The Central Bank of the UAE (CBUAE) and the People’s Bank of China signed an MOU (Memorandum of Understanding) to enhance technical and technological cooperation in the development of central bank digital currencies (CBDC), going beyond initial collaboration on mBridge CBDC project.

In September 2023, during a speech given by Hong Kong Monetary Authority (HKMA) CEO Eddie Yue, he discussed the whole sale CBDC ( Central Bank Digital Currency) project Mbridge stating that the launch of a minimal viable product ( MVP) would be soon, with participation of UAE Central Bank, Bank of China, BIS, Bank of Thailand and some new entrants.

The UAE Central Bank officials had called for a comprehensive regulatory framework for central digital currencies that would facilitate, accelerate and reduce the cost of cross border monetary operations.

R3 was chosen by UAE Central Bank as its technology partner to design and build a CBDC for the first phase of the central bank’s CBDC project because it is a permissioned based DLT (Distributed Ledger Technology) that decentralize assets privately and works well in regulated industries, but more importantly is its interoperability and asset fluidity.

Sheikh Mansour also witnessed the graduation of the first batch of 1,056 citizens from the ‘Ethraa’ program, who completed a high-level training and qualification program at the Emirates Institute of Finance.

The ceremony showcased the progress and development journey that the CBUAE has witnessed over 50 years, during which the apex bank has contributed to strengthening financial and monetary stability and driving the wheel of economic growth in the UAE. This is in addition to launching a package of innovative projects implemented by the Central Bank’s subsidiaries within the Financial Infrastructure Transformation Program (FIT program) to accelerate the digital transformation in the financial services sector as part of a wider strategy aimed at enabling the CBUAE to be among the top central banks globally.

In a speech given by Hong Kong Monetary Authority (HKMA) CEO Eddie Yue, he discussed the whole sale CBDC ( Central Bank Digital Currency) project Mbridge stating that the launch of a minimal viable product ( MVP) would be soon, with participation of UAE Central Bank, Bank of China, BIS, Bank of Thailand and some new entrants.

In May 2023, The Central Bank of the United Arab Emirates and the Hong Kong Monetary Authority in a bilateral meeting in Abu Dhabi  agreed to enhance collaboration between the two jurisdictions on virtual asset regulations and development. 

Mbridge is the creation of  Innovation Hub of the Hong Kong Monetary Authority, BIS (Bank of International Settlements). In September 2022, the Central Bank of the UAE announced the completion of the first CBDC pilot involving real value transactions and four jurisdictions, using mBridge, custom developed DLT platform.

As per the news 20 banks participated in the final CBDC pilot, with over 160 transfers and FX exchanges carried out, totaling $171 million HK dollars ( $22 million)  in transfers and FX exchanges and $91 HK million in issuances equivalent to ( $12 million) .”

The Central Bank of the UAE (CBUAE) participated in “mBridge” project with partners from the Bank for International Settlements (BIS), Innovation Hub Centre in Hong Kong, the Hong Kong Monetary Authority (HKMA), the Bank of Thailand (BoT), and the Digital Currency Institute of the People’s Bank of China (PBoC).

According to Yue, “ Our mBridge project, which is a collaboration with the BIS and a number of central banks including the People’s Bank of China is also pressing ahead. Our latest pilot test has demonstrated that this wholesale central bank digital currency platform can speed up cross-border payments at reduced cost and with better transparency. We are expecting to welcome more fellow central banks to join this open platform. And very soon we will launch what we call a minimum viable product, with the aim of paving the way for the gradual commercialisation of mBridge.”

He expressed his hope that this new innovative platform will help resolve longstanding pain points in cross-border payments and enhance the efficiency of the global value chain.

UAE Central Bank officials have called for a comprehensive regulatory framework for central digital currencies that would facilitate, accelerate and reduce the cost of cross border monetary operations. The call came during UAE’s Central Bank participation at the fifth International Financial Architecture (IFA) Working Group meeting within the G20 Finance Track for 2022, which was held in a hybrid format on 22nd and 23rd September 2022.

Thiscomes after The Innovation Hub of the Hong Kong Monetary Authority, BIS (Bank of International Settlements) and the Central Bank of the UAE announced on twitter the completion of the first CBDC pilot involving real value transactions and four jurisdictions, using mBridge, custom developed DLT platform.

As per the tweet, 20 banks participated in the final CBDC pilot, with over 160 transfers and FX exchanges carried out, totaling $171 million HK dollars ( $22 million)  in transfers and FX exchanges and $91 HK million in issuances equivalent to ( $12 million) .”

The Central Bank of the UAE (CBUAE) participated in “mBridge” project with partners from the Bank for International Settlements (BIS), Innovation Hub Centre in Hong Kong, the Hong Kong Monetary Authority (HKMA), the Bank of Thailand (BoT), and the Digital Currency Institute of the People’s Bank of China (PBoC).

In 2021, the Central Bank UAE completed the first pilot phase of mBridge with the participation of five banks located in the UAE including First Abu Dhabi Bank, Emirates NBD, Dubai Islamic Bank, HSBC, and Standard Chartered Bank, in  fifteen cases. International trade settlement was prioritized in the identified business test cases given the high volume of trade between the four jurisdictions, amounting to US$731 billion.

At the time of the press communications in 2021 it stated, “The project has now identified and will start to put through, business test cases based on historical transactions to test the recently-developed mBridge Trial Platform. In addition, a roadmap for the mBridge project’s target achievements in 2022 has been established, using an iterative and agile process to develop a minimally viable product that could support the full process of international trade settlement and other use cases.”

Asma Al Zarooni, Head of Exchange of Tax Information Section at the Ministry of Finance, and Khalifa Al Faheem, Director Monetary Operations at Central Bank of the UAE, who, participated at the Fifth International Financial Architecture (IFA) Working Group meeting within the G20 Finance Track for 2022, called for a comprehensive regulatory framework for central digital currencies that would facilitate, accelerate and reduce the cost of cross border monetary operations, and also previewed UAE’s experience in the mBridge project for building multi central bank digital currencies (CBDC). Attendees also discussed central bank digital currencies for cross-border payment and implication on the international monetary system and capital flows.

A detailed progress report will be released in October 2022, which will cover the technical design, legal, policy, regulatory considerations and future roadmap, during the Hong Kong Fintech Week October 31st- November 4th. 

Prior to that UAE Central Bank and Saudi Central Bank ( SAMA) had worked on the wholesale CBDC project called ABER.