During the "Belt and Road" International Cooperation Summit Forum in Beijing, the Central Banks of China and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) have signed memoranda of understanding (MoUs) to enhance their collaboration on digital currencies. The People's Bank of China (PBOC) has signed an MoU with the Central Bank of the UAE, while the Bank of China (BoC) has entered into a digital currency cooperation agreement with the UAE's largest bank, the First Abu Dhabi Bank (FAB). This partnership builds on their existing involvement in the mBridge project, which focuses on cross-border payments and includes the Bank for International Settlements (BIS), the central banks of Thailand and Hong Kong. The Belt and Road initiative also hinted at potential collaboration with the Bank of Indonesia, but it is unclear if this relates to digital currency. The UAE's advisor on digital currency highlighted the potential for collaboration due to the popularity of the digital yuan among Chinese companies in the UAE. This is facilitated by the significant presence of Chinese nationals in the UAE and the country's role as a transit point for Chinese trade with the Middle East and North Africa. The advisor also discussed the use of Central Bank Digital Currencies (CBDCs) for infrastructure payments, which could eliminate the need for intermediary banks and reduce costs and delays. The Bank of China, with direct access to the digital yuan CBDC, is positioned as a leader in digital currency innovation. The UAE is also actively pursuing its digital currency agenda, with the successful completion of a pilot for JPMorgan's Coin Systems solution by the First Abu Dhabi Bank. The UAE has plans for comprehensive CBDC work, including retail, wholesale, and cross-border applications, with the mBridge project and a bilateral cross-border CBDC venture with India being top priorities. Proofs of concept for domestic and wholesale CBDCs are expected to be completed by mid-2024, with R3 as a key partner.
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