Central banks join to explore CBDC for international retail payments

BIS and the central banks of Israel, Norway and Sweden teamed up to find out  how CBDCs can be used for international retail and remittance payments

Icebreaker CBDC


The Project Icebreaker is a joint initiative of the central banks of Israel, Norway and Sweden along with the Bank for International Settlements (BIS) aimed to explore CBDC use for international retail and remittance transactions.

As BIS plays a key role in the G20 programme, it pays extreme attention to cross-border payments that have recently been pushed up the political agenda. The segment faces international scrutiny over high costs, low speed, limited access and insufficient transparency. CBDCs may be a solution to these pervasive issues. 

Now, the Bank of Israel, Central Bank of Norway, Sveriges Riksbank and BIS Innovation Hub Nordic Centre will run the Project Icebreaker to connect domestic proof-of-concept CBDC systems. The study will continue until the end of the year, testing specific key functions and the technological feasibility of interlinking different domestic CBDC systems.

The project’s architecture enables immediate retail CBDC payments across borders, at a significantly lower cost than existing systems typically based on the correspondent banking system.

"This first-of-a-kind experiment will dig deeper into the technology, architecture and design choices and trade-offs, and explore related policy questions. These learnings will be invaluable for central banks thinking about implementing CBDCs for cross-border payments."
Beju Shah,
Head, BIS Innovation Hub Nordic Centre


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Nina Bobro

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Nina is passionate about financial technologies and environmental issues, reporting on the industry news and the most exciting projects that build their offerings around the intersection of fintech and sustainability.