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Singapore’s Project Ubin hits commercialisation milestone

A blockchain payments network prototype spearheaded by Singapore’s central bank and its partners could speed up and lower the cost of cross-border payments

A government-led blockchain payments network prototype is closer to being commercialised after the technology was successfully validated in the fifth and final phase of Project Ubin, a blockchain testbed spearheaded by Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS).

In a statement, MAS said the prototype had successfully settled payments in different currencies on the same network. An international settlement network, modelled after the prototype, could enable faster and cheaper transactions than conventional cross-border payments.

The use of smart contracts on the payments network was also validated in use cases such as delivery-versus-payment settlement with assets on private exchanges, conditional payments and escrow for trade, as well as payment commitments for trade finance.

MAS said commercial applications of the payments network prototype include cross-border payments in multiple currencies, foreign currency exchange, settlement of foreign currency denominated securities, as well as integration with other blockchain-based platforms to enable digitalisation across industries and use cases.

Developed together with investment bank J.P. Morgan and Temasek, Singapore’s state investment firm, the prototype can also facilitate collaboration with other central banks and the financial industry to develop next-generation cross-border payments infrastructure.

Technical specifications for the functionalities and connectivity interfaces of the prototype network have been made publicly available to spur further industry development.

Sopnendu Mohanty, chief financial technology officer at MAS, said Project Ubin has brought the financial industry and blockchain community together on a journey of experimentation, prototyping and learning.

“This has built a strong foundation of knowledge, expertise and experience, and paved a path towards commercial adoption. Following the successful experimentation over five phases, we look forward to greater adoption and live deployment of blockchain technology,” he said.

Temasek deputy CEO Chia Song Hwee added that blockchain technology has great potential in transforming businesses and opening new business opportunities, noting that Project Ubin has demonstrated the commercial applicability, viability and benefits of blockchain technology across industries, beyond capital markets and trade finance.

“This validates Temasek’s efforts in exploring and building blockchain solutions focusing on digital identity, digital currencies and financial asset tokenisation. We look forward to supporting commercialisation efforts emanating from Project Ubin and other application areas, with a view to drive greater adoption of blockchain technology.”

In the earlier phases of Project Ubin, MAS and its partners developed a proof-of-concept project to conduct inter-bank payments using blockchain, as well as software prototypes of three different models for decentralised inter-bank payments and settlements, among other activities.

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