Rwanda plans to issue a digital currency by 2026

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June 5, 2024
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2 min read
cryptocurrency
  • Rwanda plans to develop its own national Central Bank Digital Currency (CBDC) within the next two years, which, according to the National Bank of Rwanda (BNR), will provide Rwandans with a safe, free, and convenient alternative to physical cash.
  • The CBDC is also expected to increase the country's financial inclusion, allowing more unbanked people to participate in the formal economy.
  • Soraya Hakuziyaremye, Deputy Governor of Rwanda's Central Bank, revealed the 2026 timeline in an interview.

Hakuziyaremye stated that the Rwandan CBDC is important because of developments in other countries, citing African nations such as Nigeria, Ghana, and South Africa, which are either in the piloting phase or have already launched their CBDCs. 

One of the drivers for this move is seeing the country's major trading partners test or use the technology. She also stated that, given Rwanda's ambitions and goals for ICT and a cashless economy, the country needed to determine whether there would be benefits in following the example of other countries.

In November 2023, the National Bank of Rwanda Governor John Rwangombwa stated during the presentation of the central bank's annual report for the fiscal year 2022/2023 to a joint plenary session of Parliament that the CBDC was being developed.

Recall that in May 2024, the government introduced a feasibility study on CBDC in Rwanda. The study aims tol examine the potential benefits, risks, and practicalities of implementing a retail CBDC in Rwanda. 

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The Deputy Governor, who collaborated with the Ministry of Finance, ICT, and Innovation to form a task force for the feasibility study, stated that the study revealed numerous opportunities for Rwanda to adopt a national digital currency. 

Highlighting the possibility of adoption, the Deputy Governor also said that the authority published a research paper and conducted a public consultation process to address concerns and make the CBDC beneficial to the population to increase adoption. Concerns include data privacy, resilience, and the potential destabilisation of the financial system.

Further, after the public consultation process concludes in the next four weeks, Rwanda will embark on a proof of concept to test the technology, design, and speed on a small scale. It will also conduct a six-month international test on the technology for cross-border payments. Following this, individuals and companies will be mapped out to test the digital currency.

While the country considers various CBDC design options, Rwanda prefers a retail CBDC distributed through banks. It’s also considering developing a CBDC that is accessible offline, particularly in areas without internet access or smartphones, or during power outages in the country.


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