Schemes and Initiatives

Project Ubin: Central Bank Digital Money using Distributed Ledger Technology

 

What It Is

Project Ubin is a collaborative project with the industry to explore the use of Blockchain and Distributed Ledger Technology (DLT) for clearing and settlement of payments and securities.

The project aims to help MAS and the industry better understand the technology and the potential benefits it may bring through practical experimentation. This is with the eventual goal of developing simpler to use and more efficient alternatives to today’s systems based on central bank issued digital tokens.

Project Ubin is a multi-year multi-phase project, with each phase aimed at solving the pressing challenges faced by the financial industry and the blockchain ecosystem. The project is now in its fifth phase, and has since published 5 project reports.

Project Phases

Phase 1: Tokenised SGD
MAS announced on 16 November 2016 that it will be partnering R3, a DLT company, and a consortium of financial institutions on a proof-of-concept project to conduct inter-bank payments using Blockchain technology. The consortium includes the following financial institutions:
  • Bank of America Merrill Lynch
  • Credit Suisse
  • DBS Bank
  • Hongkong and Shanghai Banking Corporation (HSBC) Limited
  • JP Morgan
  • Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group
  • OCBC 
  • R3
  • Singapore Exchange (SGX)
  • United Overseas Bank (UOB)

The consortium also included BCS Information Systems, which acts as the technology provider. 

Phase 1 successfully concluded on 9 March 2017. Deloitte was commissioned to produce a report that covers the aspects of DLT that are most suited to settlement systems and details the design principles used for the prototype. The report Project Ubin: SGD on Distributed Ledger (2.55 MB) will serve as an introduction to DLT, and provide an understanding of the prototype developed.

Phase 2: Re-imagining RTGS
MAS and The Association of Banks in Singapore (ABS) announced on 5 October 2017 that the consortium which they are leading had successfully developed software prototype of three different models for decentralised inter-bank payment and settlements with liquidity savings mechanisms. 

Financial Institutions

The consortium includes the following financial institutions:

  • Bank of America Merrill Lynch
  • Citi
  • Credit Suisse
  • DBS Bank Ltd
  • HSBC Ltd
  • JP Morgan
  • Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group
  • OCBC Bank
  • SGX
  • Standard Chartered Bank
  • UOB

Technology Partners

The consortium also includes the following five technology partners, and their scope of appointment.

Technology partners Scope of appointment
Accenture Manage and develop prototypes
R3
Support on the Corda DLT platform
IBM Support on the Hyperledger Fabric DLT platform
ConsenSys Support on the Quorum DLT platform
Microsoft Deployment of prototypes on Azure Blockchain

MAS and ABS announced on 14 November 2017 that the report, Project Ubin Phase 2 Report: Re-imagining RTGS (3.57 MB), had been published and the source-codes and technical documentations have been released for public access under Apache Licence, Version 2.0. Central banks, financial institutions, as well as academic and research institutions are encouraged to tap on the open source-codes to facilitate their experiments, research and innovation.

Phase 3: Delivery versus Payment (DvP)
MAS and Singapore Exchange (SGX) announced on 24 August 2018 that it is collaborating to develop Delivery versus Payment (DvP) capabilities for settlement of tokenised assets across different blockchain platforms.

This will allow financial institutions and corporate investors to carry out simultaneous exchange and final settlement of tokenised digital currencies and securities assets, improving operational efficiency and reducing settlement risks. Three companies, Anquan, Deloitte and Nasdaq were appointed as technology partners for this project. They will leverage the open-source software developed and made publicly available in Project Ubin Phase 2.

The successful conclusion of the DvP project was announced on 11 November 2018. The project demonstrated that DvP settlement finality, interledger interoperability and investor protection can be achieved through specific solutions designed and built on blockchain technology.

Following its conclusion, MAS and SGX have jointly published an industry report, Delivery versus Payment on DLT (5.85 MB), which provides a comprehensive view of automating DvP settlement processes with Smart Contracts . The report also identifies key technology and operational considerations to ensure resilient operations, and defines a market framework that governs post-trade settlement processes such as arbitration.

Phase 4: Cross-border Payment versus Payment (PvP)
The Bank of Canada (BoC), Bank of England (BoE) and the MAS jointly published a report on 15 November 2018 which assesses alternative models that could enhance cross-border payments and settlements. The report examines existing challenges and considers alternative models that could in time result in improvements in speed, cost and transparency for users.

The report, Cross-border interbank payments and settlements: Emerging opportunities for digital transformation (4.4 MB), provides an initial framework for the global financial community to assess cross-border payments and settlements in greater depth. Specifically, it discusses how a variety of payment models could be implemented, from both a technical and non-technical perspective.

MAS and BoC subsequently linked up their respective experimental domestic payment networks, namely Project Jasper and Project Ubin, and announced on 2 May 2019 a successful experiment on cross-border and cross-currency payments using central bank digital currencies. MAS and BoC jointly published a report, Jasper-Ubin Design Paper: Enabling Cross-Border High Value Transfer using DLT (2.45 MB), which proposes different design options for cross-border settlement systems.

Phase 5: Enabling Broad Ecosystem Collaboration

MAS announced on 11 November 2019 the successful development of a blockchain-based prototype that enables payments to be carried out in different currencies on the same network.

The prototype network, developed by MAS in collaboration with J.P. Morgan and Temasek, has the potential to improve cost efficiencies for businesses. The payments network will provide interfaces for other blockchain networks to connect and integrate seamlessly, and will also offer additional features to support use cases such as Delivery-versus-Payment (DvP) settlement with private exchanges, conditional payments and escrow for trade, as well as payment commitments for trade finance.

The network is currently undergoing industry testing to determine its ability to integrate with commercial blockchain applications. Beyond technical experimentation, this phase of Project Ubin sought to determine the commercial viability and value of the blockchain-based payments network.

The project report will be published in early 2020. The report will describe the blockchain use cases that would benefit from a blockchain-based payments network, and set out additional features that the network could provide. In addition, the technical specifications for the connectivity interfaces that were developed will also be released for public access under Apache License Version 2.0.

Getting Involved

Beyond technical experimentation, the current phase of Project Ubin, Phase 5, sought to determine the commercial viability and value of the blockchain-based payments network, and is currently undergoing industry testing to determine its ability to integrate with commercial blockchain applications. To date, MAS and its partners have engaged more than 40 financial and non-financial firms to explore the potential benefits of the network.

The first cohort of blockchain applications that were tested successfully were showcased at the Singapore FinTech Festival 2019. This included projects by industry partners like CapBridge, Hashstacs, Digital Ventures, and Digital Asset, where they showcased their respective blockchain-based applications, and how they were able to test out integration with the Ubin prototype network for transaction processing.

To build on these efforts, MAS collaborated with IMDA to launch a Blockchain Challenge – Growing and Connecting Blockchain Business Networks. In alignment to the overarching interest to catalyse the formation of blockchain business networks, and for such networks to connect and grow, one of the themes in the Blockchain Challenge invites industry partners with commercial applications and use cases to submit proposals to test out and use the blockchain-based prototype for multi-currency payments. More details are available at IMDA’s Blockchain Challenge .