The central bank of Cambodia, NBC, will soon launch a blockchain-based, peer-to-peer payment transfer platform in the coming months, according to the reports.
The scheme (dubbed as ‘Project Bakong’), has the support from 11 banks, with many more anticipated to join soon.
Essentially a quasi-form of CBDC, Bakong was launched on a trial basis in July and will soon be operational.
Chea Serey, the director general of National Bank of Cambodia, described the system as ‘the national payment gateway of Cambodia.’ She said –
“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. Eventually, we hope to allow cross border payment through the Bakong system too.”
Shin Chang Moo, the president of Phnom Penh Commercial Bank, told The Post that his bank is making this system available at all branches.
He said –
“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.”
According to Chang Moo, Bakong is cheaper and more convenient as compared to that of traditional payment and transfer methods. He said –
“Some are concerned that banks might lose some of its market share to Bakong. This is partly true, at least in the short term. However, our industry is relatively immature in terms of the number of service providers and users. Bakong will eventually create financially inclusive ecosystems that all the stakeholders in the industry can benefit from.”
Different from the most decentralized digital currencies, Bakong is a closed system which is potentially backed by banking authorities.
Chang Moo said –
“There is zero possibility of speculation using Bakong. The Bakong wallet is currently linked to users’ bank accounts to exchange with hard currency. All the transactions will be done on a real-time basis with the records stored safely at NBC.”
He said that Bakong will be helpful in setting a national standard for QR code usage, that will be integrated with Asean equivalents.
He added –
“The international financial society is getting to know about Bakong and many other central banks around the world are likely to follow suit.”