Southern Cross University has joined forces with ANZ to spearhead a groundbreaking initiative. Together, they introduced a central bank digital currency (CBDC) named eAUD. This Australian-first endeavor involved an intensive eight-week pilot program. Additionally, it delves into the practical application of CBDC in real-world scenarios.
Exploring Offline CBDC Transactions with eAUD
The pilot focused on the feasibility of using CBDC for offline transactions on the university’s campuses. Students could use eAUD to pay for various products and services at on-campus retailers without an online connection. This was particularly significant in addressing scenarios where internet connectivity is compromised, such as during major network outages or within communities lacking online access.
The choice of Southern Cross University as a testing ground for this digital currency initiative was no coincidence. The institution’s response to the previous year’s natural disasters highlighted the potential of digital currency in crisis management. The university’s Lismore campus, a central hub for evacuation and emergency housing during the floods, faced significant challenges due to inoperative ATMs and EFTPOS machines.
ANZ’s Commitment to Innovation
ANZ has expressed great enthusiasm for this collaborative venture. Hari Janakiraman, the Head of Industry and Innovation at ANZ, emphasized the project’s national importance. After all, it explores novel payment technologies for Australians. The offline payment solution was particularly relevant for Southern Cross University and the surrounding community. They have recently experienced natural disasters.
The practical aspect of the pilot involved equipping ten students with NFC-enabled smart cards pre-loaded with eAUD. These cards were accepted at select vendors across the university’s Gold Coast and Northern Rivers campuses. Students found the experience of using eAUD comparable to traditional payment methods but with added reliability assurance during internet outages.
Participating vendors, including Quick Brown Fox and SCU Gym and Pool, as well as SCU Health Clinic and Green Room Café, reported positive feedback on the reliability and ease of use of eAUD. Notably, the absence of bank fees was a welcomed advantage.
The Bigger Picture: A Step Towards Financial Resilience
Richard Jones, the University’s Director of Financial Services, highlighted the broader implications of the pilot. It showcased how institutions like universities could provide immediate financial support in emergencies, circumventing the limitations of traditional banking services. The collaboration between the banking sector, local vendors, and the university’s professional and research arms made this pilot a commendable partnership.
Southern Cross University and ANZ’s innovative pilot program marks a significant milestone in exploring digital currencies. The successful implementation of eAUD demonstrates the potential of CBDCs to enhance financial resilience and accessibility.
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