NBC officially launches Bakong

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The National Bank of Cambodia (NBC) officially launched the Bakong digital currency on Wednesday 28th October 2020, which is backed by blockchain technology.

NBC Bakong launches in Cambodia
Photo Credit (Hean Rangsey) – NBC’s Bakong launches in Cambodia

Chea Serey, director-general at the National Bank of Cambodia, said: “I hope the official launch of Bakong system today will help to promote social welfare and also prevent the spread of that disease through facilitating e-payment from person to person seamlessly without involving cash.”

Serey also indicated that Bakong would give an impetus to the rural financial sector development and nurture financial inclusivity in the Kingdom.

The Bakong payments infrastructure rollout offers users in Cambodia with e-money infrastructure supported by the government for transactions via immediate mobile payments that include quick response (QR) codes. The digital transactions can be made using the Cambodian Riel or US Dollar.

The National Bank of Cambodia system is built on top of a Soramitsu-planned Hyperledger Iroha blockchain, reports indicate.

Chea Serey, director-general of central banking at the National Bank of Cambodia launches Bakong
Photo Credit (Bakong FB Page) -Chea Serey, director-general at the National Bank of Cambodia launches Bakong

Some of the benefits of Bakong are:

  • Enable payments between banks and financial institutions.
  • Improve the efficiency and safety of payments.
  • Boost financial inclusivity.
  • Promoting cashless payments in the local currency.

The Bangkok Post said “The e-money “Bakong”, an initiative of the National Bank of Cambodia, joins a very small group of digital currencies backed by central banks that have gone fully operational.”

Central bank digital currencies, or CBDCs, are in a global race but the on Bakong Chea Serey said that Bakong is not a Central Bank Digital Currency.

Which companies are using Bakong?

The Cambodian central bank began its Bakong pilot in July 2019 and about 20 financial institutions have participated in the project. Many more are expected to join

The NBC said the actual number of participants in the system stands at 18, 16 of which are banking or financial institutions, while two are payment service providers.

24 additional institutions have been granted membership in principle and are preparing to review the technicalities involved in connecting to the system reports the Phnom Penh Post.

A full list of Bakong partners is on their website:

  • Sathapana Bank
  • Canadia Bank
  • Vattanac Bank
  • Cambodia Post Bank
  • ACLEDA
  • PRASAC Microfinance Institution
  • Wing Money
  • AMK Cambodia
  • Prince Bank
  • Speed Pay Plc
  • FTB
  • Chip Mong Bank
  • PPC Bank
  • BIDC
  • Phillip Bank
  • ABA
  • WB Finance

Read more about digital payments in Cambodia and fintech in the Kingdom.

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