Cambodia’s central bank set to launch ‘quasi’ form of digital currency this quarter

The National Bank of Cambodia (NBC), the country’s central bank, is set to launch a blockchain-based interbank payments platform.

The platform, dubbed “Bakong," will go live within the current fiscal quarter, NBC's director-general, Chea Serey, told The Phnom Penh Post earlier this week. Bakong is a “quasi-form” of a central bank digital currency (CBDC), said Serey, adding that it has already seen support from 11 banks.

Phnom Penh Commercial Bank is one of the banks that is set to deploy Bakong at all its branches, the bank’s president Shin Chang Moo told The Post. “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,” Chang Moo added. 

NBC has been researching the blockchain-based payment platform since 2017. At the time, Serey said the platform would help provide “smooth, efficient, safe and affordable interbank transactions which will ultimately benefit end users”.

Now she explained that Bakong will bring all players in Cambodia’s payment space under one roof, “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,” she added.