Over the weekend, a Moroccan newspaper reported that the central bank is exploring central bank digital currencies (CBDC).
Bank Al-Maghrib (BAM), Morocco’s central bank, confirmed to Ledger Insights that it set up a Committee to explore the topic. However, it’s currently at an early stage.
The Bank pointed to CBDC research conducted by the Bank for International Settlements (BIS) in which it participated. BIS research found that 60% of banks are unlikely to issue a CBDC within the next six years, but 86% of banks are engaging in some sort of activity.
BAM’s committee will, “identify and analyze the contributions, the benefits as well as the risks of a CBDC for the national economy. In addition, this committee will thoroughly review all consequences of a CBDC on monetary policy, the structure of banking intermediation, financial stability and legal framework.”
The committee will coordinate with other authorities within the country about ‘measures to be taken’ with respect to crypto-assets, based on their usage both nationally and internationally.
BAM is not planning to issue a digital dirham any time soon. “In the current context, and taking into account the various reforms undertaken by Bank Al-Maghribfor the promotion of electronic means of payment and the reduction of cash and whose benefits can only be assessed in the medium term, it would be premature to consider the issuance of a digital currency in the short term.”
We were hesitant to write about this news before BAM confirmed it because of a previous inaccurate article we published re Tunisia. Last year Russian news agency TASS stated that Russian-founded firm Universa conducted an official but symbolic CBDC test at a Tunisian event. While the test happened and the central bank was present, it turned out to be unofficial and we had not received a response from the central bank at publication time. Tunisia’s CBDC work is also at an early stage.
Meanwhile, in the Bahamas, the Sand dollar is already in circulation, and China is about to run its seventh mass digital currency trial with 200,000 people. China’s central bank is also participating in a multi-currency cross border CBDC project that involves Hong Kong, Thailand and the UAE.