With China in the lead, central banks around the world are deep in research to deploy digital versions of their fiat currencies. But while the race for central bank digital currencies (CBDCs) is on, Visa is looking ahead to explore how these currencies could work offline.

It should be noted that despite being decentralized and immutable, blockchain transfers require an internet connection. In a new research paper titled “Towards a Two-Tier Hierarchical Infrastructure: An Offline Payment System for Central Bank Digital Currencies,” Visa proposed an offline payment solution for CBDCs.

To make offline payments possible, the payments giant has proposed a system that would deploy “open source technology and public key infrastructure.” Although no code or resources have been deployed to make this happen, Visa has outlined a protocol that can be developed in the future. The protocol will allow transaction messages to be signed without an internet connection. According to the paper:

Recipients can submit signed, offline payment messages to an authorized wallet provider with guaranteed settlement of those transactions in order to withdraw funds from the offline payment system.

Visa opined that one of the primary reasons why central banks are beginning to explore digital currencies is to be able to reach the unbanked. An offline payment system will create “an experience similar to physical cash.”