- The National Bank of Georgia (NBG) is pushing forward with a limited live pilot for its digital Lari Central Bank Digital Currency (CBDC), with Ripple Labs among the nine tech companies contending for a place in this visionary project.
- The digital Lari aims not only to foster financial innovation but also to facilitate smoother integration with the EU, aligning with the digital Euro while ensuring monetary sovereignty.
As blockchain continues to revolutionize the financial landscape globally, Georgia too is making decisive strides towards embracing this digital transformation. The National Bank of Georgia (NBG) has officially declared its intent to advance its exploratory journey on a digital Lari Central Bank Digital Currency (CBDC) in a controlled, live pilot environment. Among the elite tech entities vying for a spot in this ambitious project is the blockchain giant, Ripple Labs.
NBG (NATIONAL BANK OF GEORGIA) has shortlisted 9 companies that have demonstrated sufficient technology potential, maturity, capacity, relevant experience, and desire to join our on-field exploration:
— XRP DROPZ (@DROPZXRP) September 29, 2023
Bridging Towards a Digital Future
In an insightful disclosure earlier this year, the NBG illustrated a two-tier design for its envisaged CBDC. This design outlines the provision of wallets by a third party, an initiative set to be not only programmable but also to support asset tokenization. Such an architecture reveals a forward-thinking approach to modern financial systems, enabling a plethora of use cases including, but not limited to, agricultural insurance provisions and real estate transactions automation.
Varlam Ebanoidze, the head of fintech at NBG, has elucidated the broader vision, emphasizing Georgia’s aspirations for EU integration. The digital Lari, or GEL, he mentions, is conceived to be interoperable with the digital Euro, a strategy ingeniously crafted to maintain monetary autonomy.
The announcement to consider a CBDC came in May 2021, with a subsequent call in January for expressions of interest from fintech firms for a live pilot, signaling Georgia’s steadfast commitment to this modern monetary endeavor.
The NBG’s engagement extends beyond national borders. On September 8, the NBG revealed its observer status in the Bank of International Settlements’ (BIS) Project mBridge. This project, embodying a collaborative spirit with nations like China, Hong Kong, Thailand, and the UAE, aims at leveraging shared knowledge and expertise, particularly from BIS’s Project Aurum.
Among the notable participants in the pilot are tech stalwarts like Augentic, Bitt, Broxus Holdings, Currency Network, DCM, eCurrency Mint, FARI Solutions, and Sovereign Wallet, besides Ripple. Ripple’s participation, given its substantial involvement in global CBDC projects spanning Colombia, Montenegro, Hong Kong, Bhutan, and Palau, potentially elevates the digital Lari CBDC pilot to a prestigious international platform, aligning Georgia closer to its EU integration and digital financial modernization goals.