Bank of England Is Open For Applications for Proof of Concept CBDC Wallet

The Bank of England has opened applications dedicated to suppliers for providing a sample wallet for a central bank digital currency (CBDC). Notably, the application deadline for the £200,000 project is set for December 23.

On Dec. 9, the BOE made a post requesting applications on the United Kingdom government’s Digital Marketplace. It is a service where government organizations can request work for digital projects.

As the guidelines state what a proof-of-concept wallet must achieve, the wallet must only offer basic functionality such as a sign-up process, a way to update details, and display balances, transactions, and notifications.

In addition, the wallet must be able to load and unload with a CBDC in addition to being able to request peer-to-peer payments via an account ID or QR code.It should also be able to be used for online business payments.

The main deliverables of the project are to formulate a mobile app that works on both iOS and Android, a proper website for the wallet, an example merchant website, and back-end infrastructure for serving the wallet website and apps while storing user data and transaction history.

According to John Ho, the Head of Legal, Financial Markets at Standard Chartered Bank, the main intents of the POC digital wallet for a CBDC are:

  • Exploring the end-to-end user journey as a way of sharpening functional requirements for both the Bank and private sector. While the bank itself will not create a user wallet, it can support core CBDC functionality through its ledger and API, as well as create payment scheme rules and user experience guidelines for private-sector wallet providers.
  • Making the CBDC product more palpable for internal and external stakeholders, like as a prototype for coming user testings.
  • Supporting the Bank’s work for the BIS Innovation Hub’s ‘Project Rosalind’, by testing front-end integration with the Rosalind API.
  • Supporting the future exploration of more functionalities, eg. offline payments or KYC processes for first time users.
  • Producing the key features: (1) Wallet Mobile app (built for both androids as well as iOS); (2) Wallet Website; and, (3) an example Merchant website, and (4) back-end server for serving mobile app and website, call the core ledger API and store user data and transaction history.

It is important to note that the work is a part of Project Rosalind. This is an initiative by the BIS Innovation Hub in London aimed at developing application program interfaces (APIs) for CBDCs, to enable interoperability for CBDCs. In other words, how a central CBDC ledger of a central bank can interface with private sector payment providers.

Without adequate integration with banks and other applications, demand for any CBDC will likely be limited.

Hence, the main goal of the sample wallet proof of concept is to be able to test and explore the usage of APIs and make it more concrete for user testing. The Bank might also employ the work from the wallet initiative for developing rules for payment schemes or private sector wallet developers.

Meanwhile, on Friday Jeremy Hunt, the new Chancellor of the Exchequer, stated that the Treasury plans on accelerating a consultation on the potential design for a digital pound in the coming weeks. It is also going to release a Technology Working Paper.