On March 2, the Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA) and Digital Finance Cooperative Research Centre (DFCRC) announced the 14 use cases selected to participate in the CBDC Pilot Project, being transactional trials using Pilot CBDC which is a real liability of the RBA. “Tokenised Bills” submitted by Unizon, an Australian start-up blockchain technology company, is to be one of the 14 use cases. The project will develop the next-generation digital invoices on blockchain based on the ERC-3525 semi-fungible token standard (SFT). Using the Pilot CBDC issued by the RBA, the invoices will be transformed into automated payment tools and fractionable high-liquidity assets, which is expected to greatly assist small and medium-sized enterprises in improving the efficiency of their supply chain finance, and could reduce financing costs and optimise working capital.
The CBDC Pilot Program conducted by the Digital Finance CRC (DFCRC) and the RBA aims to explore the possible use cases for a CBDC in enhancing the Australian economy. The pilot program began in February 2023 and is expected to end in May. During the trial, the RBA will issue a Pilot CBDC and require all selected projects to conduct real-money transactions. After the trial, The RBA and DFCRC will issue a report on the findings, which will include an assessment of the various use cases developed. These findings will contribute to ongoing research into the desirability and feasibility of a CBDC in Australia. The program received more than 140 submissions. After rigorous evaluation and careful consideration, only 14 use cases were selected, including use cases from the Commonwealth Bank of Australia (CBA), ANZ, and Mastercard. “Tokenised Bills” submitted by Unizon is one of the few selected use cases from blockchain start-ups.
Spokeswoman and legal counsel for the company, Ms. Belle Lou said “it is a great achievement for the company to be a participant in the CBDC pilot program. The company is committed to applying advanced blockchain technology to digitise and tokenise real-world assets. The company expects to provide open infrastructure for Web3 and traditional industries so as to promote and support the new generation of the digital economy within the real economy”.
Yi Cai, one of the authors of the ERC-3525 standard and a well-known blockchain technology expert believes that digital invoices are an excellent application scenario of ERC-3525 technology. Unizon’s digital invoice design embodies the advantages of ERC-3525 technology which are transparency of assets, fractionalisation, and atomic payment. In particular, the idea that a digital invoice derives a new note receivable token can be of far-reaching significance and can stimulate endless digital invoice innovation.
Solv Protocol, the creator of ERC-3525, has noted that digital invoices are an excellent application scenario of ERC-3525 technology and considers it a milestone on the road toward the digitalisation of real-world assets. Ryan Chow, CEO of Solv Protocol, believes there is potential for broad application of ERC-3525 technology for tokenising realworld assets, and that in the future ERC-3525 will foster significant progress in both native digital assets and real-world assets. As the creator of ERC-3525 technology, Solv is willing to support the success of projects such as Unizon to jointly build a more prosperous ERC-3525 industry ecology.
Invoice financing is a financial practice where the invoice issued by the supplier is based on the real trade and commerce to a verified standard. It has the advantages of simple review, short processing time, quota circulation, and immediate access to cash. It is suitable for small and medium suppliers and solves short-term capital needs. It is a widely used supply chain finance model in Australia and the world. Traditional invoice financing requires a lot of paperwork, which is prone to errors, cumbersome processes, and long cycles, so the threshold is too high for most small and medium companies. In addition, because the steps of verifying the authenticity of split invoices are commonly complex and prone to loopholes, invoice splitting is prohibited in many countries, which limits the flexibility and liquidity of invoice financing. Today, in the actual trade of small amounts and short cycles, the vast majority of suppliers still have to consume their own cash reserves or borrow funds at significantly higher rates, which puts heavy pressure on their working capital.
In the case study submitted to the DFCRC, Unizon creatively proposed to develop digital invoices on the blockchain based on the ERC-3525 semi-fungible token standard. ERC-3525 is a brand-new digital asset standard proposed by Solv Protocol. It was approved by the Ethereum community in September 2022 and became an industry standard. This standard is applicable to describing various verifiable documents, such as bills, vouchers, tickets, membership cards, etc. According to the case study submitted by Unizon, the company will ultimately develop a complete digital invoice solution based on ERC-3525 with the support of Zerocap, a well-known Australian digital asset management company. The digital invoices created by this project will not only become a transparent, visualised, and fractionable on-blockchain digital asset, but also a payment tool that can directly support on-chain payments in CBDC. After the supplier issues a digital invoice token on the chain, and the invoice token is confirmed by the purchaser, it can derive another token called a “note receivable” representing the right to collect the future payment. By selling the note receivable token, suppliers can be financed. Even better, since the note receivable is an ERC-3525 semi-fungible token, it can be split into many pieces and hence sold to multiple parties. On the payment day, the purchaser only needs to transfer CBDC to the digital invoice on the chain, and the smart contract embedded in the digital invoice can automatically distribute the right amount of cash to the final holders of the note receivable pieces. Because the whole process is completed on the blockchain, with high efficiency, strong transparency, traceability, and reliability, it is easy to support invoice splitting and fractional receivability of accounts. This helps transform invoices into a new asset that has high liquidity and high composability. In the future it can be used as an underlying asset of structured finance such as ABS. There is a pretty big room for future innovation.