Private Sector Invited to Join BIS’ Project Agorá

Project Agorá, initiated by the Bank for International Settlements (BIS) in collaboration with prominent central banks and the Institute of International Finance (IIF), is now open for private sector participation. This project aims to revolutionize wholesale cross-border payments through tokenization, and private financial institutions are invited to join.

The call for private sector participation commenced today and will remain open until May 31, 2024. Eligible applicants include financial institutions and critical payment service providers, with a particular emphasis on those with digital innovation experience and involvement in cross-border payments.

Project Agorá, named after the Greek term for “marketplace,” is a joint effort involving seven central banks, including the Bank of France, Bank of Japan, Bank of Korea, Bank of Mexico, Swiss National Bank, Bank of England, and the Federal Reserve Bank of New York. The project aims to explore the integration of tokenized commercial bank deposits with tokenized wholesale central bank money to enhance the efficiency and integrity of cross-border transactions.

One of the primary objectives of Project Agorá is to leverage smart contracts and programmability to streamline settlement processes and unlock new transaction possibilities. This collaboration seeks to address existing inefficiencies in cross-border payments, including legal, regulatory, and technical obstacles, as well as issues related to operating hours and time zones.

The initiative, although experimental in nature, represents a significant step toward transforming the global payments landscape. By bridging the gap between traditional banking systems and emerging technologies, Project Agorá has the potential to reshape the future of finance. Private sector participation fees will fund the project’s activities, underscoring the industry’s commitment to driving innovation in cross-border payments.

The application process for Project Agorá is rigorous, with applicants evaluated based on their global payments footprint, innovation expertise, and the experience of their executive team. While the project is not merely a proof of concept, it is described as an experimental research endeavor with the intention of advancing beyond the initial stage.