LONDON – A cross-industry consortium is being launched in the UK to reimagine and test new payment rails for the global financial system, the Digital FMI Consortium announced. The new group – standing for ‘Digital Financial Market Infrastructure (DFMI)’ – is the body behind Project New Era, the UK’s first privately-led Digital Sterling (dSterling) pilot, set to launch in the autumn.
The group will focus on real-world testing to evaluate a future digital currency ecosystem, environment and economy that includes the coexistence of current forms of money, regulated digital assets (including crytocurrencies and stablecoins) and Central Bank Digital Currencies (CBDC), starting in the UK with Project New Era.
Brunello Rosa, CEO and Head of Research at Rosa & Roubini Associates, emphasised the global scale of digital asset exploration:
“Currently, 105 countries (representing over 95 percent of global GDP) are exploring paths towards a CBDC, while 10 countries have now fully launched a digital currency. The market continues to develop at a tremendous pace, with the British government having announced plans to make the UK a global crypto hub, the ECB declaring recently that CBDCs could be the ‘Holy Grail’ of cross-border payments, and the Fed exploring a digital dollar with increasing urgency.”
The consortium intends to use the blueprint set out by Project New Era to launch private-sector pilots in multiple jurisdictions across the world.
The DFMI Consortium is made up of leading financial institutions, including commercial banks, payment providers, telecommunications providers, FinTechs, NFT ecosytems and digital currency exchanges. To date members include IBM, Finastra, FinClusive, Ibanera, paywith.glass, Mattereum, Trust Payments and Accomplish Financial, with further members set to be announced upon the launch of the UK pilot.
The industry initiative is founded by leaders of the global financial services industry, under the coordination of Dutch financial infrastructure group paywith.glass SIG (Special Interest Group), with Boston Consulting Group as its consulting partner, and supported by The Payments Association in the UK.
Official global advisors to the project include Rosa & Roubini Associates as Macroeconomic Advisors, Simmons & Simmons as legal counsel and Farrant Group providing strategic communications.
Kunal Jhanji, Managing Director and Partner at Boston Consulting Group, stated:
“The world is undergoing a financial revolution from which there is no turning back. With the advent of DLT and blockchain technology, digital assets are ushering in a new era for money, with potentially transformative benefits for consumers, businesses, financial institutions and states. The industry needs to now come together to help the lawmakers and central banks shape the design and regulatory aspects of the biggest change we will see in the payments ecosystem in our lifetimes.”
The pilot will test high-potential use-cases and provide empirical inputs to policymakers and regulators on future design considerations for CBDC development and stablecoin regulation. Amit Sharma, Founder & CEO of FinClusive, emphasised that:
“Digital assets and CBDCs more generally can be designed to enable the financial inclusion of those who have traditionally struggled to access and maintain financial services. Embedding essential anti-money laundering and KYC tools such as verifiable digital identities and compliance credentials into these services helps ensure security while empowering the most vulnerable segments in society. FinClusive is proud to join this effort.”
Michael Carbonara, CEO of Ibanera, emphasised that “the future of payments will rely on digital infrastructure – but the payments ecosystem will continue to be underwritten by trust, which is why the pilot will test cutting edge compliance systems throughout its duration.”
Alison Conway, Head of Strategic Development at Trust Payments, said: “Commerce is constantly changing & innovating. Against this backdrop, digital currencies and CBDCs in particular offer a unique opportunity to design a playbook that drives interoperability while offering tangible benefits to both merchants and consumers. With global uncertainty and the demand for trust and transparency increasing, now is the time to build the platform and create the ecosystem that will shape the next generation of UK commerce and the broader monetary system that underpins it.”
Paul Sisnett, the CEO and co-founder of ‘paywith.glass’, the digital currency infrastructure solution, explained why the consortium is launching its first pilot in the United Kingdom:
“The UK has a proud history of invention and innovation. When Tim Berners-Lee invented the World Wide Web in 1989 to meet the demand for automated information-sharing between scientists in universities and institutes around the world, he did not anticipate that his creation would profoundly and permanently change the way we live and interact to this day.
The emergence of digital currencies represents the biggest technological revolution since then, and the final step in the full digital transformation of the global financial system. The global race for the future of money is well underway, and we couldn’t be more excited to be leading the UK’s ambition to set the pace.”