The Universal Digital Payments Network – Empowering the future of cross-border payments for digital currencies
Around the world digital currencies are moving from theory to practice and most monetary authorities are evaluating the benefits and practicalities of these new payment instruments.
In this blog, we will delve into the significance of the Universal Digital Payments Network, with a particular focus on digital currencies, cross-border payments, and central bank digital currencies (CBDCs).
In today’s interconnected world, the need for efficient, secure, and inclusive payment systems is more crucial than ever. The 2021 McKinsey Global Payments Report(1) projects global payments revenue to be approximately 2.5 trillion USD by 2025. The emergence of digital currencies, cross-border payments, and CBDCs has paved the way for a ground-breaking development known as the Universal Digital Payments Network (UDPN). This transformative network holds immense potential to revolutionise the global financial landscape, fostering seamless transactions, enhancing financial inclusion, and unlocking new economic opportunities.
Digital currencies have gained significant traction in recent years. They offer several advantages over traditional money:
Decentralisation: Digital currencies are often based on blockchain technology, which allows for decentralised transactions without the need for intermediaries like banks. This eliminates the need for a traditional infrastructure and could transform the role of banks as intermediaries in financial transactions.
Peer-to-peer transactions: Digital currencies enable direct peer-to-peer transactions without the need for a centralised authority. This means that individuals can transact with each other directly, bypassing traditional channels. This will enhance speed and transparency of financial services such as remittances, money transfers, and cross-border transactions.
Lower transaction costs: Traditional banking systems involve various fees and charges for transactions, especially for cross-border transfers. Digital currencies can potentially reduce or eliminate these costs by leveraging blockchain technology, which can enable faster, more secure, cost-effective transactions.
Financial inclusion: Digital currencies have the potential to provide financial services to the unbanked and underbanked populations worldwide. With a smartphone and internet access, individuals can participate in the digital currency ecosystem and access financial services without needing a traditional bank account. This could disrupt the traditional banking model and expand financial inclusion globally.
Disintermediation. The use of digital currencies could reduce the need for certain financial intermediaries, such as payment processors, clearinghouses, and even banks themselves. Smart contracts and decentralised finance (DeFi) platforms built on blockchain technology can enable automated transactions, potentially removing the need for traditional intermediaries.
Central bank digital currencies: Many central banks are exploring the concept of CBDCs, which are digital representations of cash issued by central authorities. CBDCs could enable direct transactions between individuals and central banks, bypassing commercial banks for certain transactions. This could reshape the role of commercial banks and their relationship with central banks. CBDCs also offer the potential to enhance financial stability, streamline monetary policy, and promote financial inclusion. With CBDCs, central banks have better control over the monetary system while maintaining the stability and trust associated with traditional fiat currencies.
The aim of the Universal Digital Payments Network
The UDPN aims to leverage these digital currencies to facilitate seamless transactions across borders. By eliminating intermediaries and reducing transaction costs, this network opens up new avenues for businesses and individuals to transact directly and securely. Many financial institutions have shown interest in stablecoins to facilitate digital intrabank, cross-institution and cross-border payments. UDPN seeks to address these challenges—as outlined in the UDPN whitepaper(2)—by providing a seamless and efficient infrastructure for cross-border payments which have long been plagued by issues like high fees, lengthy settlement times, and complex processes.
CBDCs issued by central banks either in direct or indirect models, have gained significant attention globally. A total of 130 countries representing 98% of the global economy have initiated CBDC projects.(3) The UDPN is an ideal platform to support and transact such CBDCs and provide an infrastructure to exchange them with other digital currencies cross-border such as bank-issued, regulated stablecoins. The new platform also connects countries with different CBDC technologies and policies, empowering them to exchange value and build a truly global digital payments network.
The decentralised nature of digital currencies and the UDPN reduces reliance on traditional banking systems, and could provide financial access to the unbanked or underbanked populations. This fosters financial inclusion and stimulates economic growth, particularly in developing regions where access to banking services is limited. UDPN also has the potential to bring programmability into payments. Smart contracts can create value-added services through payments programmability. (4) This also boosts business intelligence and creates a completely new avenue for new use cases which are not yet develop. It’s important to note that the extent of disruption will depend on various factors, including regulatory frameworks, user adoption, scalability, technological advancements, and public trust in digital currencies. While digital currencies have the potential to disrupt the banking business, the transformation will likely be gradual and involve a complex interplay between traditional financial systems and emerging digital currency ecosystems.(5)
UDPN provides the infrastructure for a strategic decentralised messaging backbone supporting digital currencies and CBDCs. It also addresses the potential challenges around interoperability of different technologies and architecture. UDPN adopts a highly modular and scalable approach towards a complex market demand. Following its official launch during the World Economic Forum in Davos, UDPN has quickly become the leading infrastructure in the cross-border payments segment for digital currencies. The current phase seeks to deliver proof-of-concepts within major use cases in the field of digital assets will be followed by building the decentralised governance structure (UDPN Alliance) and production environment in 2024.
(1) McKinsey Global Payment Report 2021: https://bit.ly/3GzHB81
(2) UDPN White Paper: https://www.udpn.io/assets/pdf/UDPN-white%20paper-MM_170123.pdf
(3) Reuters report, More than 130 countries explore CBDC’s: https://www.reuters.com/markets/currencies/study-shows-130-countries-exploring-central-bank-digital-currencies-2023-06-28/
(4) G+D, CBDC make payments programmable: https://www.gi-de.com/en/spotlight/payment/cbdcs-making-payments-programmable
(5) BIS, CBDC’s in emerging markets: https://www.bis.org/publ/bppdf/bispap123.pdf