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Georgia is preparing a limited live CBDC test and is evaluating the technology provider Ripple.

When contemplating EU membership for the nation, the digital lari emerges as a symbol of interoperability with the digital euro, all while safeguarding financial autonomy. The National Bank of Georgia (NBG) has unveiled its intention to propel research on a central bank digital currency (CBDC) called the digital lari, within a controlled, exclusive live pilot environment. Nine entities, including Ripple Labs, will actively participate in this project, with a single entity to be chosen for progression to the subsequent testing phase.

In a report released in February, the NBG articulated its consideration of a dual-layered CBDC design, featuring third-party provided wallets. This innovative currency would be programmable and offer support for the tokenization of various assets. During an interview held in June, Varlam Ebanoidze, the NBG’s fintech lead, elaborated on potential applications for the digital lari, also known as GEL. These encompass facilitating agricultural insurance and streamlining real estate transactions. He further emphasized their aspiration for integration with the European Union, highlighting the significance of interoperability with the digital euro, while simultaneously upholding financial sovereignty.

The NBG initially disclosed its contemplation of a CBDC issuance in May 2021, refraining from specifying a precise timeline. In January, the NBG publicly invited expressions of interest from fintech enterprises to partake in a controlled live pilot program. On September 8, a significant development unfolded as the NBG announced its participation as an observer in the Bank of International Settlements’ (BIS) Project mBridge, which notably includes China, Hong Kong, Thailand, and the United Arab Emirates, in conjunction with around ten other observer countries. This participation would also involve harnessing the knowledge and expertise offered by BIS’s Project Aurum.

Alongside Ripple, the pilot program boasts the involvement of notable entities such as Augentic, Bitt, Broxus Holdings, Currency Network, DCM, eCurrency Mint, FARI Solutions, and Sovereign Wallet. Ripple’s prominent presence in CBDC initiatives across the globe extends to countries like Colombia, Montenegro, Hong Kong, Bhutan, and Palau.

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