Ghana wants its central bank digital currency (CBDC) to work offline, according to a report from Bloomberg on Monday.
CBDCs are digital forms of a jurisdiction’s legal currency and are designed to be available via smartphones. Kwame Oppong, head of fintech and innovation at the Bank of Ghana (BoG), said the country’s digital currency, the e-cedi, would work offline through the use of smart cards, according to the report.
Smart cards are physical cards embedded with a chip, similar to modern bank cards.
Speaking at the Ghana Economic Forum on Monday, Oppong said that efforts to bring financial services to people without access to bank accounts are hindered by “the availability of connectivity and power.” He suggested that a CBDC that could be used offline might be a possible solution to this problem.
“What we hope to be able to do – and we’re one of the people pioneering this – is that the e-cedi would also be capable of being used in an offline environment through some smart cards,” Bloomberg quoted Oppong as saying.
So far, China might be trying a similar smart card-based solution for its digital yuan, in which users would be able to transfer their digital currency from bank accounts directly to an offline card. But based on an offline payments solution proposed by global financial service provider Visa earlier this year, offline transactions with CBDCs are not a given and could lead to counterfeiting or double spending.
The Bank of Ghana has been planning to issue a CBDC since at least 2019, and said it was in advanced stages earlier this year. In July, Ghana announced it would be piloting the e-cedi in September, but it hasn’t officially kicked off yet.
More than 80 jurisdictions around the world are studying the implications of CBDCs. Nigeria is setting up to launch its eNaira while, in October, the European Central Bank began a two-year experiment into a digital euro.
In September, the Bank for International Settlements (BIS) encouraged said central banks should start diligently working on CBDCs, particularly in light of the growth of crypto and stablecoin markets.