A total of 11 of the country’s 43 commercial banks support the project that will simplify payments in a cheaper and faster way.

Two years after reports of a Cambodian cryptocurrency, the country is set to launch a Central Bank Digital Currency (CBDC) payment system. The name of said digital asset will be “Project Bakong”.

Chea Serey, the General Director of the National Bank of Cambodia (NBC) announced that the central bank was developing “the national payment gateway for Cambodia”. This digital asset will work as a blockchain-based, peer-to-peer platform with its specially designed cryptocurrency.

Although Serey did not give a definite date for the launch of the cryptoactive, the blockchain-powered money transfer platform will be in the market this year.

The CBDC already has the support of 11 out of the country’s 43 commercial banks. According to Serey, more financial institutions will join the platform and make use of the CBDC once the project is conducted. This could mean that the project is finding receptivity, although it is not on yet.

About the Development

Bakong was designed by the Japanese blockchain company Soramitsu. Makoto Takemiya, CEO of that company, commented that CBDC “is simply a tokenized version of the USD and Riel fiat money in NBC’s reserves”.

This project was first trialed by NBC in July 2019. Now, the CBDC will work on a closed system supported by its banking members. One of these members is the Phnom Penh Commercial Bank (PPCBank), according to what President Shin Chang Moo told local media.

One of the benefits that Bakong offers is that it is cheaper compared to conventional payments, even more than transfers and credit or debit cards. That is what Chang Moo considers. His bank is rolling out the system at all branches.

“We are in the final stages of the deployment (…) It has taken a little longer than expected because we were ensuring that the system is as useful and convenient for the users as possible. We will offer the service as soon as it launches”, Chang Moo commented to local media.

Avoiding Speculation

Moo added that there is “zero possibility of speculation” using the CBDC so this would be another reason to choose this technology.

About how the country will handle this asset, it was explained that Cambodia’s central bank will maintain centralized control of the proposed CBDC.

Users will be able to use the “quasi-form” CBDC for everyday payments from their mobile devices. The initiative is expected to support and help introduce QR-based transactions throughout the country.

Soramitsu is currently working on implementing similar systems for other countries around the world. Chea Serey added that NBC plans to integrate a cross-border payments facility into the Bakong platform to expand the development.

“Bakong will play a central role in bringing all players in the payment space in Cambodia under the same platform, making it easy for end-users to pay each other regardless of the institutions they bank with”, she explained.

Shortly, Bakong will “create financially inclusive ecosystems that all the stakeholders in the industry can benefit from”, Mood assured.

By María Rodríguez


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