In brief

  • Lebanon has announced plans to launch a digital currency in 2021.
  • The country has previously made reference to a digital currency or cryptocurrency for local use.
  • As early as 2019, money laundering risks have featured in discussions about what this currency would look like.

Lebanon's central bank is reportedly launching a digital currency in 2021.

According to a report from Lebanon's National News Agency cited by Bloomberg, the digital currency is designed to promote confidence in Lebanon's banking system.

This is not the first time Lebanon has flirted with the idea of a digital currency. In April of this year, Riad Salameh, the governor of Lebanon's Central Bank, said Lebanon intends "to launch a central bank digital currency to make payments more affordable to Lebanese." But now, the intention has changed from affordable payments to confidence in Lebanon's banks.

Further back in history, the Lebanese Central Bank reportedly announced the launch of a cryptocurrency, or "virtual Lebanese pound" that would be designed for local use.

At the time, concerns relating to money laundering—as opposed to terrorist financing—were rife.

On this subject, Salameh previously said that "cryptocurrencies were more often used for money laundering than for terrorism financing, because no exchange mechanism exists for these currencies in war zones."

Should Lebanon finally launch a digital currency, it would join a long list of countries that have already launched—or are considering launching—a digital currency of their own.