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The National Bank of Cambodia Will Launch a Digital Payments Network This Quarter

Cambodia is the latest country to demonstrate serious pro-blockchain action.
The National Bank of Cambodia’s new digital currency is called Bakong. It’s effectively a central bank digital currency (CBDC) that was launched on a trial basis throughout Cambodia in July. Chea Serey, director-general of the National Bank of Cambodia, said the system will be operational within the present fiscal quarter. Serey described Bakong as “the national payment gateway for Cambodia.”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.Unlike most blockchain-driven cryptocurrencies, Bakong is a closed system that’s backed by banking authorities. A software wallet is linked to each user’s bank account for them to more easily interact with hard currency. The system supports real-time transactions while the National Bank of Cambodia stores centralized records about where the money goes.This is a bit of an adjustment to Cambodia’s previous heading on cryptocurrency and blockchain technology. The country had previously issued requirements for a cryptocurrency business license — a Cambodian crypto exchange became the first such licensed business in August 2018.In any event, the at-scale use case of a national bank granting its users the ability to transact with each other using blockchain verification seems sure to accelerate adoption.