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Nepal poised to launch a CBDC – Industry roundup: 10 August

Nepal poised to launch a CBDC following a feasibility study

The Nepal Rastra Bank (NRB), the central bank of Nepal, plans to launch a national digital currency based on its recent feasibility study. The NRB has reportedly been exploring regulatory changes to define its powers and authorities, enabling it to issue a digital version of the Nepalese rupee, the country's fiat currency.

According to the head of the central bank's Currency Management Department, the amendment bill has already been drafted by a task force. Following internal discussions, the executive stated that this bill would be sent to the government, pending approval by legislators. Once approved, these amendments will be incorporated into the Nepal Rastra Bank Act of 2002.

The NRB Monetary Policy 2021-22 paper revealed a study on the feasibility of a national digital currency. The task force has now proposed the plans needed to move forward with the launch, including developing a legal framework to support the plan as well as taking into account the technical and economic issues.

The central bank also intends to create a CBDC-specific digital wallet, with the ability to conduct online banking transactions. Reports indicate there are also measures in place to assess digital currency interoperability among digital payment service providers.

The Nepal Rastra Bank has stated that it is not in a rush to issue the digital currency. However, Nepal's monetary authority intends to monitor how its peers, such as India and China, fare with their CBDC plans. The nation stated that it does not want to hasten the introduction of a digital currency for fear of an oversight.

Infinicept introduces a "Bring Your Own Processor" solution for embedded payments

US-based embedded payments software provider, Infinicept, announced the release of Infiniport, a single open payment operations capability that is said to enable clients to interface with any processor or alternative payment rail. Payment facilitators, payment companies and software platforms with embedded payments can expect to "bring their own processor" (BYOP) to their payments and business initiatives through Infiniport.

For organizations that require multiple payment processing relationships, orchestration between processing platforms can be pivotal. Until now, companies that desire a modern embedded payments experience had to choose between all or nothing, according to reports. Using a single provider meant paying higher fees and being bound to that technology. Customers can now expect to achieve the modern experience and work with their preferred payment processors, gateways, terminal providers, token solutions and other industry participants through Infinicept's universal platform.

Most standard payments solutions involve trade-offs, according to Deana Rich, Co-Founder and Co-CEO, Infinicept. However, Infinicept is said to enable customers to keep their payments revenue, ownership of their data and control over their payment’s product and customer experience.

Reports indicate that Infiniport provides access to Infinicept's PayOps capabilities, which include risk monitoring, compliance, fee management and settlement functions. The majority of the North American embedded payments processing market is reportedly represented by Infinicept's pre-built integrations with FISERV, Adyen, FIS and TSYS.

The volume of payments processed by Infinicept has reportedly increased by more than 1,400% since 2020. Serving over 300 software firms directly or through its banking and payments clients, Infinicept is shooting to be a key player in the embedded finance market, which is expected to reach US $585 billion by 2030.

Citi introduces a deposit solution based on sustainability

Citi's Treasury and Trade Solutions division has introduced a Sustainable Time Deposit solution for corporate and institutional clients in Singapore and Hong Kong to fulfil client demand and interest in sustainability-related products, services and investment opportunities.

Reports indicate that funds invested in the solution will be used to finance or refinance assets in a portfolio of approved green or social finance projects, in accordance with the criteria outlined in the Citi Green Bond Framework, the Social Finance Framework and the Social Bond for Affordable Housing Framework, all of which are said to support the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.

These deposits will reportedly be used to fund environmental projects such as renewable energy, energy efficiency, sustainable transportation, green building and water quality and conservation. Furthermore, the social projects in emerging markets include increasing access to affordable basic infrastructure such as water and sanitation, as well as digital connectivity for low-income communities.

According to Sandip Patil, head of liquidity management services, treasury and trade solutions, Asia-Pacific, Citi, the plan is to work closely with treasurers in enhancing the sustainability of their companies through the new deposit solution in Hong Kong and Singapore.

Euro-denominated Bitcoin and Ether futures to be introduced by the CME Group

CME Group, a global derivatives marketplace, plans to expand its cryptocurrency derivatives offering on 29 August with the introduction of Bitcoin Euro and Ether Euro futures, subject to regulatory approval.

Bitcoin Euro and Ether Euro futures contracts will be scaled to match their US dollar-denominated equivalents, with five bitcoin and 50 ether per contract. According to reports, the new contracts will be cash-settled and expected to be based on the CME CF Bitcoin-Euro Reference Rate and CME CF Ether-Euro Reference Rate, which are daily reference rates for the euro-denominated price of Bitcoin and Ether. These new futures contracts will be listed on the CME and governed by its rules.

Institutional investors outside of the United States are reportedly becoming more interested in risk management solutions as a result of the persistent uncertainty in the cryptocurrency markets. According to Tim McCourt, Global Head of Equity and FX Products, CME Group, their Bitcoin Euro and Ether Euro futures contracts will provide customers with more accurate tools to trade and hedge exposure to the two biggest cryptocurrencies by market cap.

For clients looking to hedge their risk or gain exposure to the asset class, CME Group's Cryptocurrency product suite reportedly provides consistent liquidity, volume and open interest. Second quarter of 2022 was said to be the highest quarter in terms of average daily open interest (106.2K contracts) and average daily volume (57.4K contracts) across all cryptocurrency products. Furthermore, Ether futures reached a record average daily volume of 6.6K contracts in the second quarter, up more than 27% from the previous quarter.

Iran places its first cryptocurrency import order

The Tasnim news agency reported that Iran placed its first official import order using cryptocurrency this week, a move that reports state could allow the Islamic Republic to avoid US sanctions that have weakened the economy. The US $10 million order was reportedly a first step toward allowing the country to trade using digital assets that bypass the dollar-dominated global financial system, as well as trade with other countries similarly restricted by US sanctions, such as Russia. The cryptocurrency used in the transaction was not specified by the agency.

An official from the Ministry of Industry, Mine, and Trade expects that cryptocurrencies and smart contracts will be used extensively in foreign trade with target countries by the end of September 2022. Currently, the US has imposed a near complete economic embargo against Iran, including a ban on all imports from the country's oil, banking and shipping sectors.

Tehran, the capital of Iran, is reportedly one of the largest economies that has yet to adopt cryptocurrency technology. However, a study published last year discovered that 4.5% of all Bitcoin mining was taking place in Iran, owing in part to the country's inexpensive electricity. Mining cryptocurrency is said to provide Iran with hundreds of millions of dollars, which supposedly could be used to buy imports and mitigate the impact of sanctions. Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies are extremely volatile, making them unsuitable for large-scale payments.

AsiaPay and TripleA collaborate to provide APAC merchants with cryptocurrency payment acceptance

TripleA, a MAS-licensed cryptocurrency payment gateway service provider in Singapore, has partnered with AsiaPay, an Asia Pacific digital payment service provider and technology vendor, to enable merchants to accept cryptocurrency payments.

Through this collaboration, AsiaPay merchants in eleven Asia Pacific countries will be able to accept cryptocurrencies in addition to other payment methods such as card, internet banking, e-wallets and BNPL, all through a single integrated payment interface at checkout.

AsiaPay claims that a variety of payment methods and markets will support the same backend payment administration, making reporting and reconciliation simple for merchants. Currently, funds are said to settle to bank accounts in fiat currency. However, shortly, funds will be settled in cryptocurrency as well as crypto wallets.

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