The Mojaloop Foundation is thrilled to announce that the Mojaloop Central Bank Digital Currency (CBDC) Center of Excellence (COE) in Singapore is expanding its team with the appointment of industry veteran Suji Thampi to Director of Engineering. Thampi joins the Mojaloop CBDC COE team, which is led by Director Nick Drury and supported by the Mojaloop COE Working Group, to help drive forward key initiatives such as hackathons, workshops, and pilot projects. He’ll be focused on examining how central banks can leverage Mojaloop open source software and CBDCs to reduce the costs and inefficiencies of fast payment platforms and cross-border payments. We recently interviewed Suji to learn more about his role within the Mojaloop CBDC COE.

Tell us about your role and how it will align with the Mojaloop CBDC COE mission.

ST: I am excited to join the Mojaloop CBDC COE team to investigate the ways that Mojaloop and CBDC technology can solve real-world challenges for emerging markets. The Center’s mission is to advance financial inclusion in emerging economies. By fostering greater international collaboration, the COE aims to enable more seamless cross-border transactions. By developing open-source software and a reference model for extending existing payment systems with wholesale digital currency-based settlement networks, the COE will provide leadership, governance models and critical learning to help governments and financial service providers understand how CBDCs can support financial inclusion, and what regulations and design features must be in place to facilitate use cases that benefit the poor.

Given all the global financial inclusion initiatives underway, why is the Mojaloop CBDC COE different?

ST: The COE is unique in that it will further expand the Mojaloop Foundation’s efforts to advance financial inclusion in emerging markets by extending Mojaloop’s ecosystem engagement. Through the leadership of COE Director Nick Drury, the COE will examine the ways in which CBDCs have the potential to make a wider spectrum of Mojaloop-enabled push-payment capabilities available to central banks, citizens, merchants and digital financial institutions to help all the populations within emerging economies thrive in the digital economy.

We are currently focused on building up our CBDC COE Working Groups, and I would like to extend an open invitation to join us in our mission. If you’re interested in furthering financial inclusion for some of the neediest populations around the world, we welcome your participation. To learn more, please complete the form at the bottom of this page.

Why is it important to make it easier for financially underserved people to access interoperable and inclusive digital financial services

ST: There are still millions of people around the world who are underserved and unbanked. This population is at an extreme disadvantage and is essentially excluded from many of the financial services they need to advance their lives. Interoperable, inclusive digital financial services could be life changing for this group. The COE will examine the ways in which CBDCs can make a wider spectrum of Mojaloop-enabled push-payment capabilities available to central banks and their citizens, merchants and digital financial institutions. By making digital payments and cross-border transfers seamless, the Mojaloop CBDC COE aims to identify ways to remove the restrictive hurdles and high fees that have been barriers to advancing financial inclusion in the past.

What first brought you to the Mojaloop CBDC COE?

ST: Over the course of my career, I’ve had the opportunity to work with a variety of non-profit organizations, various UN entities and others. These experiences showed me that unfortunately, significant portions of donations never reach the neediest populations. There’s a lot of leakage at the distribution and usage level, and I believe CBDCs can help address this. CBDCs have a big role to play in ushering in transparency and fiscal governance in public spending to benefit the underprivileged. I’ve also had the opportunity to work all over the world and have seen the need first-hand in many places, so I understand the urgency. Those experiences have fostered a desire to work in the financial inclusion space and help the underserviced groups who stand to gain the most from effective digital currency transfer.

Last year I was involved in the CBDC Hackathon conducted by MAS, with the support of the Mojaloop Foundation, and the team I was part of made it to the finals. This experience helped me to further realize that enabling CBDC at a wholesale level is the primary step towards extending the CBDC Platforms to the public. The team I supported used interface APIs from the Mojaloop Foundation for the distribution of CBDCs in the prototype built by the team.

I am also very active within Singapore Computer Society, a non-profit volunteer organization for ICT (Information, Communication, Technology) resources in Singapore, where I lead the Distributed Ledger Technology community. All of those experiences helped bring me to the Mojaloop CBDC COE and prepared me to help support the excellent work it’s doing.

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