IMF and World Bank Launch Learning Coin

The International Monetary Fund(IMF) and the World Bank have launched a private blockchain and a crypto token called “Learning Coin” to examine blockchain technology.

The news is not surprising as both institutions have expressed their interest in digital currencies. IMF’s chief Christine Lagarde has called for the exploration of bank digital currencies (CBDCs) in order to decrease demand for cash and encourage the use of digital currencies. As she said, back in 2018, “I believe we should consider the possibility to issue digital currency. There may be a role for the state to supply money to the digital economy.”

In 2017, World Bank’s presidentat the time, Jim Yong Kim, said that blockchain was “something everyone is excited about.” 

As more and more cryptocurrencies are being created and blockchain technology is explored by different sectors, it is logical that global institutions such as the IMF and World Bank would be interested in educating themselves in all aspects of the new technology. IMF for example focuses on ensuring “the stability of the international monetary system” and the World Bank provides financial products and assistance to help countries apply innovative knowledge to their challenges. In this respect, analysing and examining the possibilities and issues underlying blockchain technology and digital coins falls within their respective interests.

Learning Coin Project

The news was first reported by the Financial Times,on April 12, in an article focussing on the emerging technology and its use by the two multinational agencies. The coin would only be used by the two organizations and would hold no monetary value, as the aim is to allow staff familiarize themselves with distributed ledgers, smart contracts and challenges relating to money laundering.

According to the FT, the IMF said in a statement: “The development of crypto-assets and distributed ledger technology is evolving rapidly, as is the amount of information (both neutral and vested) surrounding it. This is forcing central banks, regulators and financial institutions to recognize a growing knowledge gap between the legislators, policymakers, economists and the technology. This project begins to bridge that gap and form a strong knowledge base of the technology among IMF and World Bank staff.”

The IMF and the World Bank have also launched a Learning Coin app which would act as a “hub for knowledge” where blogs, research, videos and presentations will be posted and where staff can “earn” Learning Coins by reaching certain educational milestones. As it was pointed out by the article, staff may be able to redeem the coins for some kind of reward, but both the IMF and the World Bank underlined that the coin has no inherent value. 

As this is a process of educating their staff and better understanding the use of crypto assets in real life scenarios, the project is fundamentally an open-minded attempt to explore cryptocurrencies and blockchain technology. As the article stated: “The app is a prototype that aims to show the good, the bad and the ugly of the technology, without hype or uninformed criticism.”

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