Posted 9 months ago | by Ben Armstrong

The Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) started to develop a collaborative project to explore the use of Blockchain and Distributed LedgerTechnology for the settlement and clearing of payments and securities.

Coined “Project Urbin”, the project was intended to assist the entity to better understand blockchain technology via practical experimentation, exploring its potential applications and benefits as an alternative to central bank-issued tokens.

Project Ubin was announced in November 2016, with its first phase being completed in March 2017 in a collaboration with financial institutions, such as Bank of America Merrill Lynch, JP Morgan, Hongkong and Shanghai Banking Corporation (HSBC), Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group, and Singapore Exchange.

This approach stands in stark contrast to the USA, where public blockchain projects aren't being given much support, and China, where the CCP is creating a digital payments system that isn't going to be competitive on the global stage.

Ubin’s Last Stage has Been Completed

The project is already in stage 5, with the first four stages focusing on Tokenised Singapore Dollar, Re-imagining real-time gross settlement, Delivery Vs Payment, and crossborder payment vs payment.

With this milestone achieved, MAS is prepared for the integration of its blockchain payment platform with commercial applications after the successful experimentation of the 5 stages.

Sopnendu Mohanty, Chief FinTech Officer for MAS, said:

“As with all innovation adoption, there is a time for experimentation and a time for commercialization. Project Ubin has worked with the financial industry and blockchain community on a journey of experimentation, prototyping, and learning. This has built a strong foundation of knowledge, expertise, and experience, and paved a path towards commercial adoption. Following the successful experimentation over five phases, we look forward to greater adoption and live deployment of blockchain technology.”

One of the biggest advantages that UBIN will have is the open financial system that Singapore offers, and the local development culture in the small nation. By ensuring that local and international can fully leverage Singapore's financial system, the country has secured an enviable position.

JP Morgan Provided the Backbone for the Project

The platform works by using JP Morgan’s Quorum blockchain protocol, JP Morgan coin (JPM), and the Interbank Information Network (IIN).

Umar Farooq, Managing Director & Head of Blockchain for J.P. Morgan expressed his satisfaction with the successful completion of stage 5 and his excitement about the potential that blockchain has demonstrated in business and finance.

“We look forward to working with MAS, Temasek, and other banks to develop and scale commercial solutions for the industry”, added Mr. Farooq.

It is curious that JP Morgan's blockchain assets are being put into action in Singapore, while they go underutilized in the USA. There aren't going to be 100 blockchain development hubs globally, and the major nations may have already lost the race.

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