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Japan-backed Cambodia’s digital currency soars to 10m users

japan-backed-cambodias-digital-currency-soars-to-10m-users
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Japan-backed Cambodia’s digital currency soars to 10m users

Bakong, Cambodia’s digital currency, has surpassed 10 million opened accounts, accounting for 60% of the nation’s population.

In a recent interview with Nikkei Asia on Dec. 19, Cambodia‘s central bank governor, Chea Serey, revealed that the country’s nascent digital currency, known as Bakong, co-developed with a Japanese startup, has been distributed between approximately 10 million accounts.

The figure is a significant milestone as around 60% of the nation’s population now potentially utilizing Bakong for transactions, the report indicates. Serey also shared plans for expanding Bakong’s reach internationally, particularly through a collaboration with UnionPay International, China‘s card payment service, and other global partners.

“We have already launched cross-border payment connectivity with Thailand, Laos, and Vietnam.”

Chea Serey

Moreover, the National Bank of Cambodia also aims to enhance the cross-border payment network for its digital currency, fostering seamless transactions beyond Cambodia’s borders.

In the interview, Chea emphasized the importance of financial inclusion, highlighting the central bank’s commitment to furthering financial inclusion by focusing on consumer protection and cybersecurity. Additionally, the central bank has signed a memorandum of understanding with Alipay, the digital payment service of Ant Group, and established collaborations with the Central Bank of Solomon Islands, the Reserve Bank of Fiji, and the National Bank of Rwanda.

As per Nikkei Asia, the National Bank of Cambodia has also inked a memorandum of cooperation with Japan’s Ministry of Economy, Trade, and Industry, laying the groundwork for QR code-based payments between the two countries.

Launched in 2020, Bakong is the product of collaborations between Cambodia’s central bank and a dozen commercial banks, with the underlying blockchain architecture designed by Japanese tech firm Soramitsu Co. Given the widespread ownership of smartphones in Cambodia, the central bank aims to leverage Bakong as a solution for bringing banking services to the unbanked population. Similar to many of its Southeast Asian counterparts, Cambodia faces a significant challenge, with a large portion of its population lacking access to essential banking services.