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Cambodia just months away from launching its own central bank digital currency

Cambodia’s central bank is readying to launch its blockchain-based, peer-to-peer money platform within the next few months, Phnom Penh Post reports.

The system, named ‘Project Bakong,’ is a payments app powered by a central bank digital currency (CBDC). National Bank of Cambodia (NBC) chairman Chea Serey described it as “the national payment gateway for Cambodia.”

The current Bakong implementation links to users’ bank accounts to exchange the CBDC with hard currency.

An exec from one participating bank told reporters that Bakong is cheaper and more convenient than credit and debit cards, before noting that some banks might lose some of their market share in the short term.

Having tested Bakong since July last year, the bank expects it to be fully operational by the end of this quarter. The system currently has the support of 11 banks, and is to be rolled out in bank branches across the country soon.

A World Economic Forum release from December notes the system seeks to connects a fragmented payments economy that’s dominated by heavy cash usage with “commercial banks, merchants, and the country’s largely underbanked population to reduce payments frictions and increase financial inclusion.”

Earlier this week, Hard Fork reported that a raft of European central banks, including the Bank of International Settlements, teamed up to explore potential use cases of CBDCs, with cross-border payments and interoperability as the main areas of interest.

Published January 30, 2020 — 16:18 UTC