Tunisia denies CBDC reports: Did Universa spread the false news?

In early November, news spread that Tunisia had beaten China in the race to the world’s first CBDC. However, soon the bank spoke up and proved that the news was false.

Tunisia denies CBDC

The news was broken by Russian outlets Tass and Iz.ru, which highlighted that Russian company Universa helped the Central Bank of Tunisia (BCT) for the project. By November 11, the BCT denied all such claims regarding the development of central bank digital currencies (CBDCs). The bank declared that it is working on digital finance but it denied any connection with any firm, whether domestic or foreign.

Did Universa spread the news?

CEO of Universa, Alexander Borodich, claimed that the media mistook the situation. He was quoted in both original reports. However, his claim is weak, considering he shared the link to one such news story on November 8.

He was also heard talking about the topic in an interview. He stated that “So, we were able to launch — Tunisia launched, using our technology, the national digital currency.” The company was taking an active role in the news cycle, spreading the news through interviews and social media until the day before BCT’s statement.

The original reports were in-depth studies of the project with headlines talking about the digital dinar. Both of them talked about how Universa handled the technical side of things.

However, when news surfaced that Tunisia had partnered with Universa for the project, Universa played along and even assisted in spreading the news. The company shared the news on Twitter as well as on Telegram.

Many news platforms received letters by an email sender who claimed to be Mikhail Dremidov. Mikhail Dremidov is listed as a PR manager at Universa. Dremidov later admitted that he was not in Tunisia and thought that the news was true. Borodich later admitted that BCT has “no contractual aspect on CBDC with Universa.”