On Monday, the Bank of Israel released the results of a lab experiment that examined user privacy and the use of smart contracts in payments. This was the central bank’s first technological experiment with a central bank digital currency (CBDC).

The first stage of the experiment modeled the sale of a car within a two-tier system with an intermediary payment service provider. The bank said that the service provider completed Know Your Customer/Anti-Money Laundering (KYC/AML) checks and provided the necessary blockchain addresses. A nonfungible token was issued to show ownership of the car in the absence of a Licensing Authority to effect the transfer. A smart contract exchanged the seller’s NFT and the buyer’s money, with the seller retaining the right to cancel the transaction the conditions on it, such as the price of the car, were not met.

The experiment drew attention to two questions. First was the amount of money held in digital form. To avoid bank disintermediation – massive withdrawal of traditional shekels and their conversion to digital form, a daily limit was suggested that could be written into the smart contract. The second question concerned the smart contract itself. To reduce chances of intentional or unintentional misuse of smart contracts, it was suggested that the ability to write smart contracts on the blockchain be limited to the payment service provider, but the extent of supervision required in that case remained undecided.

The first stage of the experiment also highlighted the need to establish identity so that KYC/AML could be conducted…


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