Georgia, the National Bank announced the launch of a CBDC next year

Georgia, the National Bank announced the launch of a CBDC next year


The National Bank of Georgia, the National Bank of Georgia, one of the former Soviet republics on the border between Europe and Asia, which in May said it was exploring the possible development of a central bank digital currency (CBDC), plans to launch a pilot program next year.

Initial testing will be aimed at retail use, Interfax reported, citing Papuna Lezhava, deputy central bank governor. Lezhava was however keen to specify that digital Lari is not a cryptocurrency, but is the evolution of cash, designed to improve the efficiency of the payment system and expand financial inclusion.

“The 85% of the world's central banks are already working on digital currencies: some are in the research phase, others are in the testing phase, still others have already been implemented, particularly in China and the Bahamas. We also want to be at the forefront of this trend, "the deputy governor told reporters.

According to Lezhava, moreover, the extraction of digital lari will be impossible because the National Bank will be its only issuer. The vice president also added that digital lari could compete with cryptocurrencies on various services, but they will not have the character of speculative accumulation. “The digital lari will become a faster and cheaper means of payment than traditional means. It will work 24 hours a day. Internet connection will not be required for all transactions. The main advantage is that digital lari will be technologically open to other types of technologies and will be compatible with them as much as possible, ”added Lezhava.

Georgia detains four at rally in support of jailed ex-president - report

MOSCOW, Oct 8 (Reuters) - Police in Georgia detained four protesters on Friday outside a prison holding ex-president Mikheil Saakashvili, local media reported, a week after he was jailed after returning from exile and calling for post-election protests.

Saakashvili, who was sentenced in absentia in Georgia in 2018 for abuse of power and concealing evidence when he was president, returned to the country ahead of last weekend's municipal elections after spending years abroad.

His supporters staged a rally outside the prison near the capital, Tbilisi. They clashed with police as they tried to paint the words 'Freedom for Misha' -- his nickname -- on a fence surrounding the facility, the Sputnik Georgia news outlet reported.

The ex-president's supporters have pledged to continue rallying to call for his release.

Saakashvili declared a hunger strike after being jailed on Oct. 1.

His lawyer said he was in good spirits but that his health had begun to deteriorate and that he had lost a lot of weight, RIA news agency reported on Friday.

Saakashvili, who led the Rose Revolution in 2003 that ended the presidency of Eduard Shevardnadze, is a charismatic figurehead for some in the opposition, but is derided as a clown by detractors in the ruling Georgian Dream party.

Georgian Dream won 46.7% at the local elections last weekend, beating the United National Movement opposition party founded by Saakashvili that received 30.7%.

Nika Melia, chairman of UNM, is set to take part in the second round of Tbilisi's mayoral election on Oct. 30. (Reporting by Gabrielle Tétrault-Farber Editing by Frances Kerry)