Delivering Central Bank Digital Currencies (CBDCs): Exploring the Technology Challenge

April 22, 2021

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Most central banks are researching or experimenting with central bank digital currencies (CBDC) – an increasingly hot topic across the globe.

Examples include China’s journey towards a digital yuan to the Bahamas’ launch of its ‘sand dollar’. The European Central Bank (ECB) will decide whether to start a CBDC project by mid-2021. CBDC is also among six priorities set out by the Bank for International Settlements’ (BIS) Innovation Hub in its 2021-2022 work programme.

With a group of leading central banks having identified the ‘foundational principles’ required for CDBCs (in October 2020), focus is increasingly turning to the technology that will help deliver CBDCs.

With central banks collectively representing one fifth of the world’s population likely to launch retail CBDCs in the next three years (according to BIS), this webinar – supported by our knowledge partner Amazon Web Services – examined the different technological solutions that will deliver CBDCs.

Focusing on retail (or general purpose) CBDCs – central bank digital currencies that are issued to the general public – our panel addressed these questions:

  • What are the main technological considerations for those exploring CBDCs?
  • Are the technologies available – both blockchain and centralised databases – capable of rising to the challenge of delivering CBDCs?
  • How do ambitions for enhanced features such as programmability (‘programmable money’) and offline use impact on the technology questions?
  • How can CBDCs’ design help deliver real benefits for citizens and national economies?



Alistair Milne, Professor of Financial Economics, School of Business and Economics, Loughborough University

Alistair is Professor of Financial Economics at the School of Business and Economics at Loughborough University. Previously Alistair worked at Cass Business School, Bank of England; University of Surrey, London Business School, HM Treasury and for the Government of Malawi. He has a PhD in economics from the London School of Economics. His research spans financial technology, money and central banking, bank capital and risk management, macroeconomics, financial regulation and applications of dynamic stochastic optimisation. He is the author of an account of the 2007-08 crisis “The Fall of the House of Credit”. Nowadays his principal research focus is data and related technologies in money and financial services. He is the principal investigator of the TECHNGI project part of the £20mn Next Generation Services Research Challenge supported by the UK government’s Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund. He has also worked recently on disaster risk finance and on the potential application of insurance solutions to the current Covid-19 and future pandemics.

David MacKeith, Principal Business Development Manager, Amazon Web Services EMEA

David MacKeith leads business development for Amazon Web Services (AWS) Government Financial Services for Europe, the Middle East, and Africa (EMEA). He has over 20 years of experience helping government and financial services organizations all around the world transform their operations to better serve their respective customers and markets. This includes helping these organizations develop, experiment, and deploy innovative solutions in the areas of digital currencies, monetary and market analysis, regulatory reporting and data collection automation and optimization, and transformation of treasury management functions. Prior to joining AWS, Mr. MacKeith worked on shaping and delivering major IT transformation projects and in the City of London as a commercial transaction lawyer. He holds a degree in Physics from the University of Cambridge.

Sayuri Shirai, Professor of Economics at the Faculty of Policy Management, Keio University, Japan

Sayuri SHIRAI is currently a professor of Keio University and is also senior advisor to EOS at Federated Hermes EOS located in London. She is also a non-executive board member of a Japanese listed food company. She holds a Ph.D. in economics from Columbia University. She was also a visiting scholar to the Asian Development Bank Institute in 2016-2020. She was a Member of the Policy Board of the Bank of Japan (BOJ) in 2011-2016, who is responsible for making monetary policy decisions. She taught at Sciences Po in Paris in 2007–2008 and was an economist at the IMF in 1993-1998. She is the author of numerous books and papers on a variety of subjects including central bank digital currency (CBDC), monetary policies, global finance and macroeconomies, and ESG issues. She frequently comments on Japan’s economy and global economy at CNBC, Bloomberg, China’s CCTV English program (CGTN) and numerous Japanese TV and radio programs. Her most recent book in English is Growing Central Bank Challenges in the World and Japan published by the Asian Development Bank Institute in June 2020 (free download available). Her personal homepage is available at

John Velissarios, Global Managing Director – Blockchain Technology Lead, Digital Assets, Custody & Central Bank Digital Currencies, Accenture

John is a Managing Director in Accenture’s Technology Consulting workforce, based in London. John is Accenture’s Global Blockchain and Multiparty Systems Lead responsible for Digital Assets, Custody and Central Bank Digital Currencies. John is currently leading several Blockchain engagements with top tier global organisations and central banks.