In brief

  • Societe Generale - Forge has chosen ConsenSys to provide "technology and expertise" on central bank digital currency issuance.
  • The investment bank is one of eight firms commissioned by the French central bank to experiment with a CBDC.
  • France is steaming ahead with plans for a CBDC that addresses interbank settlement.

Societe Generale - Forge, a subsidiary of European investment bank Societe Generale, has chosen Ethereum software incubator ConsenSys to provide it with “technology and expertise” related to the issuance of a central bank digital currency.

After taking part in a test of a digital euro in May, Societe Generale - Forge was named by the Banque de France as one of eight potential partners for a CBDC in July. The French central bank, which represents the second-largest economy in the European Union, is one of the first in Europe to experiment with a CBDC for interbank settlement.

Last month, Societe Generale - Forge moved forward with its own CBDC trials, deciding to build with the Tezos public blockchain.

Though ConsenSys is known for its work with the Ethereum, rather than Tezos, blockchain—incubating products like MetaMask and Infura—it does have experience working on CBDCs. For example, it has previously partnered with the South African Reserve Bank on Project Khokha, another interbank system, as well as the Monetary Authority of Singapore on settlement of a tokenized Singaporean dollar.

Its contributions will cover primarily "CBDC issuance and management, delivery versus payment, and cross-ledger interoperability," according to a press release.

Other countries in the eurozone, among them Spain and Estonia, are researching the benefits of a digital currency. However, Banque de France has a head start in terms of development as it looks to make cross-border payments more efficient while laying the groundwork for a digital euro. 

Considering the European Central Bank is currently holding public consultations on the benefits and drawbacks of a theoretical digital euro, France may be positioned to actually build it. In addition to Societe Generale - Forge, seven other companies are experimenting with a French CBDC, including HSBC and Accenture, presenting the bank and the rest of Europe with multiple options for adoption.

Jean-Marc Stenger, CEO of Societe Generale - Forge, thinks that ConsenSys is the right choice for his firm’s experiments, calling the software company “a key player in the development of distributed ledger technology globally” that “offers many of the infrastructure and development tools used by the blockchain community.”

(Disclosure: ConsenSys provides funding to an editorially independent Decrypt.)