The head of the Central Bank of Uruguay (BCU) announced Wednesday a plan to explore the creation of digital currency.
"We are fairly close to launching from BCU a pilot program for a limited number of digital-currency users, which is an experiment in transforming physical bills into electronic ones," Mario Bergara said.
The central banker addressed "The Future of Money and Financial Systems," a BCU-organized gathering of finance executives and information technology experts to discuss the challenges and opportunities posed by new platforms.
With the new technology, Bergara said, "instead of carrying around a leather wallet with paper currency," people will load electronic currency onto their mobile phones.
"It's not that you use the phone to order money transfers, as is done today, but having bills in the cellular and being able to pass them on from one user to another," he said.
Digital bills will be used "exactly the same" as paper bills, Bergara said.
Uruguay "is very much in the vanguard" of digital currency development and only "logistical and technological" details remain to be defined to implement the plan, he said.
"It will be a process of trial and error, success and failures," he said. "This must have the same soundness as normal currency, but sooner or later it will be implemented in Uruguay."