Cambodia’s Digital Currency Signals Future of Finance

The Japanese start-up firm Soramitsu helped create Bakong, a digital currency payment system for Cambodia’s central bank. An interview with Soramitsu CEO Miyazawa Kazumasa on the outlook for digital currency and the future of finance.

INTERVIEWER The way that Soramitsu, a mere start-up, used its ideas to create a digital currency for an entire country’s central bank was reminiscent of the style of Steve Jobs and Bill Gates in the early days of Silicon Valley. What made you turn your attention to digital currency?

MIYAZAWA KAZUMASA I’m nowhere near in the same category as Bill Gates and Steve Jobs, but I did work at Sony for a long time. At Sony, there’s a culture of always trying to be the first to do something, and I myself wanted to do something that no one had done before. While stationed in Silicon Valley, I was responsible for developing the first ever Vaio computer, although Sony lost a lot of money on that project. Deciding that the future was going to be about services and the Internet as opposed to hardware, I returned to Japan and launched the Edy e-money platform.

The name “Edy” is made from the first letters of euro, dollar, and yen. I wanted this to be a global payment system. However, technological and other barriers meant that Edy did not take off at all overseas, and only gained popularity in Japan. Bitcoin, on the other hand, was a runaway global success. It was my frustration at losing out to Bitcoin that made me join Soramitsu, where I am now CEO. Our company that uses blockchain technology, in which a distributed network of computers is combined with encryption technology to synchronize and store transaction data.

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