Building block 19: Factoring an international dimension into CBDC design

Central bank digital currency (CBDC) has generally been defined as central bank money in a digital format, denominated in the national unit of account, that is a direct liability of the central bank and can be used for retail payments and/or wholesale settlement. CBDCs can help to enhance cross-border payments in various ways. First, CBDCs help central banks to manage the transition away from physical cash as a publicly accessible digital alternative. By providing this service, CBDCs can widen inclusion, stimulate competition and potentially reduce costs. CBDCs thus also offer a mechanism to support sovereign payments resilience, in an environment where multiple, private sector (and often foreign) digital payment alternatives are being offered. CBDCs can additionally help to address certain risks imposed by private cryptoassets, whose expansion may supplant the use of locally denominated currency and in turn weaken a central-bank's ability to conduct monetary operations. Finally, as CBDCs evolve, it is increasingly important for jurisdictions to ensure robust, safe and regulatory compliant infrastructures for CBDCs as they coexist with traditional cross-border payment options and complement them.


For CBDCs to improve cross-border payments, central banks must make fundamental decisions on foreign access and how CBDCs connect across jurisdictions. These decisions must be made at an early stage, with international cooperation and coordination as the prerequisites.


  • In July 2021, the CPMI, in collaboration with the BIS Innovation Hub, IMF and World Bank, conducted a stocktake of provisional domestic CBDC designs and central bank experimentation to determine how far they could be used for cross-border payments.
  • To follow up, the CPMI, in collaboration with the BIS Innovation Hub, IMF and World Bank, identified and analysed options for access to CBDCs and their interoperability that could improve cross-border payments. The resulting report to the G20 was published in July 2022.
  • The BIS Innovation Hub conducted a deep dive into the experience gained across its four cross-border CBDC experiments, which are part of a broader portfolio of projects that examine different aspects of retail and wholesale CBDC.
  • The World Bank published a guidance note in November 2021 for use primarily by central banks and relevant public authorities when considering the issuance of CBDCs and by institutions supporting them in this process.