Visa, Microsoft and others join Brazilian CBDC pilot

Both national and global companies will participate in the upcoming Brazilian central bank digital currency (CBDC) pilot project. Banco Central do Brasil, the country’s central bank, will begin adding participants to the digital real platform around the middle of June 2023.

On May 24, the central bank published the final list of CBDC pilot participants. Participants were chosen from a pool of 36 bids made by single companies and consortia, “totaling more than 100 institutions”. The final number of participants is 14; however, some represent groups of companies. For example, the United States-based tech giant, Microsoft; Brazil-based bank, Banco Inter; and the digital technology company, 7COMm, comprise one of the 14 participants.

Among other participants are Visa, Santander, and several Brazilian banking institutions, such as Itaú Unibanco, BTG Pactual and Banco Bradesco.

In the current phase of the digital real pilot, the central bank will test the privacy and programmability functionalities of its platform through a single use case: a delivery versus payment protocol for federal public securities.

Related: 7 central banks and BIS continue examination of ongoing policy issues for retail CBDC

The Brazilian CBDC pilot was officially announced in 2022. The value of digital real would be pegged against the national fiat currency, the real. It would have a fixed supply and be minted over time.

With a population of 214 million, the largest country in Latin America remains a location of attraction for global crypto companies. In January, Binance and Mastercard teamed up to launch a prepaid crypto card in the country. Since March, Coinbase has partnered with local payment providers to offer crypto purchases, and enable deposits and withdrawals in the local currency. On May 19, the central bank granted Latam Gateway — the payment provider for Binance in Brazil — a license to operate as a payment institution and electronic money issuer.

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