Editor's note: This story was updated on Nov. 12 with comments from the Central Bank of Tunisia to clarify its position regarding its plans for a digital currency.
The Central Bank of Tunisia (BCT) has released a statement denying earlier reports that it is prepared to issue a state-backed digital currency as “groundless allegations.”
Last week, Russian state-owned media Tass reported that Tunisia had successfully tested a digital version of its national currency, the dinar, and was now ready to launch it using technology from Russia-based startup Universa Blockchain.
Tunisia’s Central Bank today confirmed that it is exploring a central bank digital currency (an “e-dinar”) but denied that it had anything to do with the demonstration of the e-dinar at last week’s Forex Club event in any official capacity.
“[I]n order to encourage young Tunisian startups, participants at this event attended a technical feasibility demonstration of a theoretical digital currency solution, initiated by a private startup, having no moral or contractual relationship whatsoever with the BCT,” the central bank said in its statement.
This “proof of concept” was then taken out of context by Universa and used as a “marketing operation,” the bank further stated. The Central Bank of Tunisia also flatly denied having any relationship with Universa Blockchain, despite CEO Alexander Borodich’s statements to the contrary: Tunisia’s central bank “is not committed to any relationship, of whatsoever nature, with any national or foreign service provider in order to create any digital currency.”
Borodich had previously said that his firm's test of the e-dinar demonstrated that the currency was ready for launch, and said that his company’s blockchain technology aims to deliver a more secure and efficient monetary system for the country.
"Electronic banknotes cannot be counterfeited—each such banknote, like the paper version, is protected by cryptography, it, like the paper counterpart, has its own digital watermarks,” he said at the Forex Club event last week. “And the production of such a banknote is 100 times cheaper than wasting ink, paper, electricity for the printing press.”
Borodich added that Tunisia’s e-dinar would open the door to further blockchain-based projects for the country, including potentially a digital wallet linked to the national ID of every citizen, and the storage of important records and other sensitive data on a national blockchain.
But of all that, according to Tunisia's central bank, was merely "theoretical."