Central banks of UAE, India sign MoU on March 15
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Central banks of UAE, India sign agreement to boost collaboration

Central banks of UAE, India sign agreement to boost collaboration

The MoU will enable joint experimentation with regard to CBDCs and facilitate other digital innovation initiatives between the central banks

Neesha Salian
central banks of UAE and India sign MoU

The central banks of the UAE and India have signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) in Abu Dhabi on March 15.

The Central Bank of the UAE and Reserve Bank of India will collaborate on various emerging areas of fintech especially Central Bank Digital Currencies (CBDCs) and explore interoperability between the CBDCs of CBUAE and RBI, reported the state news agency, WAM.

The central banks will jointly conduct proof-of-concept (PoC) and pilot(s) of a bilateral CBDC bridge to facilitate cross-border CBDC transactions of remittances and trade.

Central banks to share knowledge on fintech

The MoU also includes technical collaboration and knowledge sharing between the central banks on matters related to fintech and financial products and services, such as emerging trends, regulations and policies.

The agreement between the central banks is expected to enable joint experimentation with regard to CBDCs and facilitate other digital innovation initiatives between the central banks.

This bilateral engagement between the central banks will witness the testing of cross-border use cases involving CBDCs, which is expected to reduce costs, increase the efficiency of cross-border transactions, and further economic ties between India and the UAE.

The mbridge platform

In October last year, CBUAE completed the first and the largest scale pilot of central bank digital currencies, being used by 20 commercial banks for real-value transactions on behalf of their corporate clients across borders, as part of “Project mBridge”, WAM reported.

The project was implemented in cooperation with the Hong Kong Monetary Authority, the Bank of Thailand, the Digital Currency Institute of the People’s Bank of China and the Bank for International Settlements

“Project mBridge” – the first pilot use of wholesale CBDCs in the MENA region – reflects the UAE central bank’s drive to create quality financial infrastructure and innovative payment systems, which is in line with UAE leadership’s directives to support the UAE’s economic competitiveness and empower the diversity and growth of the nation’s financial sector.

Throughout the pilot project, commercial banks in the four jurisdictions used the “mBridge” platform to conduct over 160 payment and foreign exchange transactions totalling over Dhs80m over a six-week period.

Other developments

In recent news, the CBUAE released figures revealing that the total investments of banks operating in the country reached Dhs528bn at the end of December 2022.

Read: UAE banks’ total investments hit Dhs528bn in 2022

This represents an 11.5 per cent annual increase or Dhs54.5bn compared to the same period in the previous year, when the total investments were Dhs473.2bn.

Saving deposits in the UAE banking system, excluding interbank deposits, increased to Dhs246.61bn at the end of November last year.

Read: UAE banks record Dhs246.6bn in saving deposits by end of Nov 2022

This represents a growth of approximately Dhs7.21bn, or 3 per cent, from about Dhs239.4bn in November 2021, as per statistics shared by the Central Bank of the UAE (CBUAE).

In January, CBUAE also issued new guidelines on anti-money laundering and combatting the financing of terrorism (AML/CFT) for licensed financial institutions (LFIs), including banks, finance companies, exchange houses and insurance companies, agents and brokers.

The guidelines focus on the use of digital ID mechanisms that LFIs should employ to perform customer due diligence obligations (CDD) on an ongoing basis.

The latest AML/CFT guidelines, which come into effect immediately, require LFIs to comply with the central bank’s requirements.

The guidelines specifically discuss identity proofing, enrollment, and authentication mechanisms in relation to LFIs’ use of digital ID systems. LFIs are required to use technology best practices, adequate governance and well-defined policies and procedures.

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