Cambodia aims hybrid digital currency on blockchain at unbanked

Blockchain-based payment system to benefit large unbanked population.

When Cambodia’s central bank launched a pilot for a digital payment system in July 2019, its aim was to increase financial inclusion in the country and expand use of the local currency over the U.S. dollar. Then came the coronavirus pandemic.

For the National Bank of Cambodia (NBC), which had been researching a blockchain-based payment system since 2016, the pandemic was a boon that accelerated the adoption of Bakong, named for an ancient Khmer temple near Siem Reap.

Launched formally in Oct. 2020, Bakong – which provides a platform for more than a dozen banks and financial institutions – has reached about 5.9 million users, with transactions worth nearly $2 billion so far, according to the NBC.

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