Singapore recently completed a pilot program for a blockchain-based multi-currency payments network prototype. Project Ubin, launched in 2016, engaged with several private parties as well as government entities seeking to better understand the benefits of blockchain technology. The prototype was developed in collaboration with JPMorgan (NYSE:JPM) and Temasek with Accenture working on documenting the project. The final report was released in July but was vague regarding any future utilization or practical applications.
Fortuitously, a Member of Parliament, Saktiandi Supaat, has sought out clarity regarding future utilization of the prototype. The MP asked the government that following the conclusion of Project Ubin, “what are the steps towards live adoption of a blockchain-based multi-currency payments network prototype; and (b) how soon can a pilot launch in Singapore be expected.”
Tharman Shanmugaratnam, Senior Minister and Minister in charge of the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) responded with the following statement:
Project Ubin is a collaborative industry effort led by the Monetary Authority of Singapore, to explore the use of blockchain technology to clear and settle payments and securities more efficiently. The project will help us better understand the technology and its potential benefits. To date, more than 40 financial institutions, Fintechs, and technology firms have participated in the project.
The findings, technical documentation, and source codes have been published openly, to encourage commercial applications. One example is JPM-Coin by J.P. Morgan, which was largely developed out of Singapore, by the same team that worked on Project Ubin. Some industry players have also expressed interest in leveraging the project learnings to develop a live commercial offering for multi-currency payments.
In due course when the commercial endeavor materialises, the parties will make their announcements and share more about their roll-out plans.
The Minister said both little and a quite a bit as we still do not know when, or even if, the prototype developed as part of Project Ubin will be utilized in a practical application.