South Africa CBDC Tracker

CBDC Information

Economic Information

Monetary Base


Cash Issued




Country Information

Freedom Rankings

Cato and Fraser Human Freedom Index:


Freedom House Index:


Reporters Without Borders Freedom Index:


South Africa is considered to be in the pilot phase because it was a key participant in the development of two CBDC prototypes led by the Bank for International Settlements and developed its own proof-of-concept.

CBDC History and Development

Alongside the Reserve Bank of Australia, the Central Bank of Malaysia, and the Monetary Authority of Singapore, the South African Reserve Bank worked with the Bank for International Settlements on a wholesale CBDC pilot (referred to as Project Dunbar). The pilot involved developing two prototypes for international settlements in an effort to improve cross-border transactions between financial institutions. Early challenges identified related to questions of governance (e.g., getting all banks on a common platform), access, and regulatory boundaries.

The South African Reserve Bank also developed a proof-of-concept (referred to as Project Khokha). The proof-of-concept was designed to test tokenization and distributed ledger technology within interbank settlement. When reflecting on the proof-of-concept, South African Reserve Bank governor Lesetja Kganyago said, “I think it is unlikely that decentralised markets will be suitable in all instances or that decentralisation will guarantee the achievement of public policy objectives such as consumer protection, financial stability as well as safety and soundness, which fall within the mandates of central banks and regulators.”

However, the South African Reserve Bank has also been looking into retail CBDCs for use by the general public. Aside from operating as money as generally understood, the South African Reserve Bank noted that it hoped issuing a CBDC would “allow for improved regulatory reporting and anti-money laundering/combatting the financing of terrorism measures, while still protecting the privacy of the user.” With this theme in mind, South African Reserve Bank deputy governor Kuben Naidoo also said, “If crypto assets were to become a very ubiquitous currency, you could undermine the authority of the central bank” and that the South African Reserve Bank wants regulation of cryptocurrencies to prevent theft, money laundering, and undermining of monetary policy.

In 2024, the South African Reserve Bank officially published a “Digital Payments Roadmap Report” to outline its future plans. Of the 17 action items listed, number 16 recommended that the central bank “further explore the feasibility of digitalizing money/cash through the issuance of retail CBDCs and use cases for a wholesale CBDC.” It was also recommended that this exploration take place over a two-year period.

Human Rights and Civil Liberties Concerns

South Africa earned a 79 out of 100 in Freedom House’s 2023 Freedom in the World report. Although the country is generally rated favorably, corruption is very much an issue.

Freedom House has reported that “Comprehensive anticorruption laws and several agencies tasked with combating corruption exist, but enforcement has historically been inadequate.” Unfortunately, this has resulted in several officials accused of corruption going without prosecution, long-standing accountability failures, and even the possible murder of a whistleblower. The existence of pervasive corruption is a major concern with CBDCs because it calls into question any promises that might be made by the government to limit surveillance, control, or other risks of CBDCs. Furthermore, the existence of corruption calls into question whether CBDC policies might be designed to exert political favoritism through subsidies, price controls, or other targeted restrictions.

For additional information on concerns regarding violations of human rights and civil liberties, see the following reports by Amnesty International, Financial Tyranny Index, Freedom House, Human Rights Watch, Privacy International, and the U.S. Department of State. For additional information on concerns regarding the risks of CBDCs, see the following webpage and report by the Cato Institute: The Risks of CBDCs and Central Bank Digital Currency: Assessing the Risks and Dispelling the Myths.

For additional information regarding metrics, the methodology page explains each of the data points and provides their respective sources.