By Lisa Pauline Mattackal
(Reuters) -Maintaining privacy and increasing understanding of blockchain technology are primary issues to solve before Brazil's central bank digital currency (CBDC) is ready for widespread use, the central bank's coordinator of the project said on Tuesday.
Named DREX, the digital real is set for a first phase launch aimed at financial institutions in May 2024, though postponed from an initial planned launch in February.
"We are using distributed ledger technology that's based on Ethereum Virtual Machine, this technology tends to be very open with all the information of the participants," said Fabio Araujo, coordinator of the digital real initiative at Banco Central do Brasil (BCB), referring to software that executes smart contracts on a blockchain ledger.
"We need to ensure that the privacy is compatible with the law," he told the Reuters Global Markets Forum.
Market maturity is another important issue to solve as the central bank wants businesses to develop new use cases for the technology, Araujo said.
The bank hopes to open testing for new protocols after May next year, and launch tests with the broader population by end-2024, though Araujo noted this timeline was contingent on meeting safety and privacy requirements.
He noted the digital real was unlikely to see the same rapid integration as Pix, the BCB's digital payments system, but the bank would work with other branches of the government to increase consumer financial education.
The Atlantic Council says 130 countries are in some process of exploring a CBDC, with 21 in the pilot stage.
Brazil is in dialogue with many countries on the topic, including Mexico and Singapore and others primarily via international bodies including the Bank for International Settlements, Araujo said.
The BCB aims to use the digital currency to boost access to financial services, with Araujo citing easy investments in government bonds as a possible initial use case.
(Reporting by Lisa Mattackal in Bangalore and Divya Chowdhury in Mumbai; additional reporting by Marcela Ayers; Editing by Lincoln Feast)