IIF Authors

Status: Will be live at 12/19/2023 09:00

FRT Episode 140: Project Tourbillon: Privacy, Security and Scalability for Retail CBDCs


In this episode of FRT, Morten Bech, Head of the Bank for International Settlements (BIS) Innovation Hub’s Swiss Centre, discusses Project Tourbillon, a recently completed project that developed two prototypes studying the trade-offs between privacy, security, and scalability for retail CBDCs, and how one might succeed at all three. Achieving this trifecta has been the focus of many engineers in the digital assets space. The lessons from Project Tourbillon are applicable to projects beyond retail CBDCs.

A report and video that discusses Project Tourbillon can be found here on the BIS Innovation Hub’s website, where it also outlines that:

  • The project enables a new privacy paradigm of payer anonymity to protect purchasers' identities;
  • The prototype's scalability was tested using payment data; and, 
  • Quantum-safe cryptography was successfully implemented for future security, however speed enhancements await further research.

Privacy has been shown to be a critical component of any future plan to design and launch a retail CBDC as consumers continue to desire the ability to have cash-like anonymity in retail payments. Morten discusses this and more, including quantum-safe cryptography and differences between the two prototypes that were designed in partnership with the Swiss National Bank to build on the existing two-tier banking system, drawing from an eCash design suggested by researchers David Chaum and Thomas Moser.