Ripple partners with National Bank of Georgia to digitize economy

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Major cryptocurrency firm Ripple is deepening ties with the Republic of Georgia by exploring ways to digitize the local economy with the National Bank of Georgia (NBG).

Natia Turnava, the acting governor of the National Bank of Georgia, and Varlam Ebanoidze, head of the bank’s Financial and Supervisory Technology Development Department, have met with Ripple executive James Wallis to enhance cooperation in financial technology and digitalization.

The Georgian central bank officially announced the meeting in a LinkedIn post on June 8.

At the meeting, Wallis — who serves at Ripple as vice president of central bank engagements — introduced the Georgian officials to Alistair Brown, a representative of Ripple’s partner EPAM Systems.

Ripple’s James Wallis next to EPAM’s Alistair Brown with NBG’s Varlam Ebanoidze and Natia Turnava (from left to right). Source: NBG

“It was an honor to be back in Tbilisi and to introduce Alistair Brown from our partner EPAM Systems to NBG Acting Governor Natia Turnava,” Wallis said.

EPAM, headquartered in Newtown, Pennsylvania, specializes in software engineering services, digital platform engineering and digital product design. The name “EPAM” is an acronym for “Effective Programming for America.”

Collaboration builds on existing partnership

According to the official statement from the NBG, the discussion focused on exploring potential avenues for collaboration in digitalizing the Georgian economy.

The new collaboration builds on the previous partnership between the NBG and Ripple, where the latter serves as the technological partner for the NBG’s pilot CBDC project called the digital lari.

As previously reported, the NBG announced plans to advance CBDC research in September 2023, inviting nine companies — including Ripple Labs — to participate in the digital lari project. Subsequently, the financial regulator selected Ripple Labs as the official technology partner for developing digital lari.

Ripple’s James Wallis (left) and EPAM’s representative Alistair Brown. Source: NBG

Ripple supports global CBDC initiatives

uGeorgia’s central bank isn’t the only global central bank cooperating with Ripple on CBDC development and related integrations. In addition to Georgia, Ripple Labs has also been involved in CBDC pilots in nations like Colombia, Bhutan, Pulau, Montenegro and others.

Related: Ripple CEO says XRP ETF ‘inevitable’ — Consensus 2024

In late 2023, Ripple doubled down on its public support for the global CBDC development in a 23-page white paper. “CBDCs are needed to support the most significant positive impacts of asset tokenization, an increasingly targeted mechanism for transforming tangible assets into digital tokens stored on the blockchain,” the firm wrote.

While companies like Ripple have been supporting the CBDC development, some critics are concerned about potential CBDC-related drawbacks such as privacy issues and government surveillance.

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