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Crypto’s Future in African Economies

Several sub-Saharan African central banks are exploring or in the pilot phase of a digital currency, following Nigeria’s October introduction of e-Naira. CBDCs are digital versions of cash that are more secure and less volatile than crypto assets because they are issued and regulated by central banks. As the Chart of the Week shows, South Africa and Ghana are running pilots while other countries are in the research phase. The South African Reserve Bank is experimenting with a wholesale CBDC, which can only be used by financial institutions for interbank transfers, as part of the second phase of its Project Khokha. The country is also participating in a cross-border pilot with the central banks of Australia, Malaysia and Singapore. The Bank of Ghana, by contrast, is testing a general purpose or retail CBDC, the e-Cedi, which can be used by anyone with either a digital wallet app or a contactless smart card that can be used offline. Sub-Saharan Africa is the most expensive region to send and receive money, with an average cost of just under 8 percent of the transfer amount. CBDCs could make sending remittances easier, faster, and cheaper by shortening payment chains and creating more competition among service providers. Faster clearance of cross-border payments would help boost trade within the region and with the rest of the world.

SOURCE: IMF BLOG