Mauritania taps German tech firm G+D to design its central bank digital currency (CBDC)

By bne IntelliNews April 29, 2024

Mauritania has partnered with German tech company Giesecke+Devrient (G+D) to design its central bank digital currency (CBDC) but has not committed to developing or rolling it out, CoinGeek reports.

The Banque Centrale de Mauritanie signed an agreement with the Munich-based firm on the margins of the recent World Bank and International Monetary Fund (IMF) Spring Meetings, G+D has confirmed.

The partnership only aims to “gain a clear understanding of how a digital Mauritanian Ouguiya could benefit society and the country’s economy.” If the central bank decides to pursue the project, G+D will offer technical solutions to underpin the digital currency.

According to World Bank data cited by CoinGeek, over 75% of Mauritania’s 4.7mn residents are unbanked, with financial services primarily available in major urban centres. CBDCs are mostly restricted to internet-enabled devices, and smartphone penetration in the country is estimated at 20%, “which poses an additional challenge for the digital ouguiya”, the publication writes.

Despite those challenges, central bank governor Mohamed Lemine Ould Dhehby said the digital ouguiya could be crucial to the country’s digital transformation agenda.

“The Banque Centrale de Mauritanie has strategically positioned itself for the potential launch of a digital currency,” he is quoted as saying.

“Through the exploratory work we have now agreed, we are expanding our knowledge base, skills and experience. G+D’s expertise in this innovative, rapidly developing field will help us to bring it to life for the benefit of the whole country.”

In Africa, G+D has worked with Ghana on its CBDC; in Asia, with Thailand’s central bank on the digital baht; and in Latin America with Brazil on offline solutions to its digital real.

While Nigeria is the only nation in Africa to have launched a CBDC – the eNaira – more than a dozen countries on the continent are exploring digital currencies, including South Africa and Tunisia.

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