Hamilton: A High-Performance Transaction Processor for Central Bank Digital Currencies


James Lovejoy, Federal Reserve Bank of Boston; Madars Virza and Cory Fields, MIT Media Lab; Kevin Karwaski and Anders Brownworth, Federal Reserve Bank of Boston; Neha Narula, MIT Media Lab


Over 80% of central banks around the world are investigating central bank digital currency (CBDC), a digital form of central bank money that would be made available to the public for payments. We present Hamilton, a transaction processor for CBDC that provides high throughput, low latency, and fault tolerance, and that minimizes data stored in the transaction processor and provides flexibility for multiple types of programmability and a variety of roles for financial intermediaries. Hamilton does so by decoupling the steps of transaction validation so only the validating layer needs to see the details of a transaction, and by co-designing the transaction format with a simple version of a two-phase-commit protocol, which efficiently applies state updates in parallel. An evaluation shows Hamilton achieves 1.7M transactions per second in a geo-distributed setting.

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@inproceedings {286445,
author = {James Lovejoy and Madars Virza and Cory Fields and Kevin Karwaski and Anders Brownworth and Neha Narula},
title = {Hamilton: A {High-Performance} Transaction Processor for Central Bank Digital Currencies},
booktitle = {20th USENIX Symposium on Networked Systems Design and Implementation (NSDI 23)},
year = {2023},
isbn = {978-1-939133-33-5},
address = {Boston, MA},
pages = {901--915},
url = {https://www.usenix.org/conference/nsdi23/presentation/lovejoy},
publisher = {USENIX Association},
month = apr

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