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Morocco confirms interest in central bank digital currencies

Morocco’s Central Bank, Bank Al-Maghrib (BAM), has set up an institutional committee to identify and analyse the benefits and risks of central bank digital currencies (CBDC) to the country’s economy, the Moroccan Press Agency has reported.

The report cites a source from within BAM as saying the Committee has also been asked to examine all related consequences of the CBDC on monetary policy and financial stability, as well as measures to be taken in view of the evolution of the use of crypto-assets at national and international level.

The Bank maintains that it is premature to issue a digital currency in the short-term.

Nonetheless, its move to scrutinise a CBDC has been welcomed by local Blockchain expert Bellaj Badr, CTO at Mchain and author of Blockchain By Example.

“In recent years (I think since 2018), BAM has announced that it has included blockchain and cryptocurrencies in its digital roadmap. Therefore, the CBDC (especially the wholesale CBDC), which represents the holy grail of all central banks because of its potential to make existing “wholesale” systems faster, cheaper and more secure, will be one of its priorities. Therefore, it makes sense that BAM is seriously considering setting up a wholesale CBDC for interbank transactions.”

Despite heightened global interest in the subject and a report released in October 2020 by the Bank for International Settlement which highlighted the benefit of CBDCs for central banks (specifically in helping to meet public policy objectives), most African countries are reserved about their plans to issue a CBDC.

Yet the situation could change, prompted by initiatives such as the recent announcement by Standard Bank that it has become the first African financial institution to establish the Hedera network node.

The Johannesburg-headquartered institution said it is establishing the node to enable the much-needed digitisation of cross-border trade processes as it wants to explore the use of stablecoins and CBDCs for instant settlement in cross-border trade on the continent.

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