Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Bakong system blazes digital-money trail

Bakong system blazes digital-money trail

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
NBC assistant governor Chea Serey has said that Bakong enables interoperability between banks and financial institutions, making digital payments easier, safer, more efficient and more cost-effective. Hean Rangsey

Bakong system blazes digital-money trail

Cambodia, along with China and South Korea, has among the 10 most mature retail central bank digital currencies (CBDC). The Kingdom’s Bakong system presents a real-world example of private distributed ledger technology (DLT) deployment in payment infrastructure, ASEAN Plus Three reported on January 19.

The organisation said there has been an “immense interest” in CBDC projects around the world, noting that the Bahamas, Nigeria, and the Eastern Caribbean Central Bank have launched such digital fiat currencies.

As of last month, “14 countries have launched or completed pilot testing of CBDCs, 16 are in stages of development or proof-of-concept stage, and another 40 countries are conducting research on the product”, the report said, citing US think tank Atlantic Council.

It also noted that many ASEAN Plus Three central banks have made “significant progress” in the area.

Additionally, Hong Kong, “Japan, Singapore and Thailand are considered to have among the 10 most mature wholesale CBDC projects globally”, the report said, referencing London-based PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC).

“The Bakong payment system of Cambodia provides a real-life case of deploying private DLT in payment infrastructure, although the project is not a CBDC system because no digital native money is involved.

“The technology has provided a platform for connecting all financial institutions and payment service providers, and enabled real-time transactions amongst participants in a decentralised manner,” ASEAN Plus Three said.

“The usage of DLT in the project has achieved important features, such as transaction finality and scalability, with transaction output of up to 2,000 transactions per second and less than five seconds in execution time,” it said, citing the National Bank of Cambodia (NBC).

“In the system, participating institutions act as both, an on boarding channel for the end-users to enter the system, and as extra decentralised nodes that increase the system’s resilience. The project was officially launched in October 2020,” it added.

The NBC has partnered with local banks to operate Bakong and boost adoption, leading the currency to reach 7.9 million Cambodians by November – close to half of the Kingdom’s estimated 16 million population – directly or through apps offered by partner lenders, Nikkei Asia reported.

Since its inception, about 6.8 million transactions had been made through Bakong as of November, clocking in at around $2.9 billion.

NBC assistant governor Chea Serey has said that Bakong enables interoperability between banks and financial institutions, making digital payments easier, safer, more efficient and more cost-effective.

She told Nikkei: “This interoperability between different players in the financial system would not only create added value to end-users in terms of the services but also help bridge the [gap between] banked and unbanked [and] rural and urban, thus creating social cohesion.”

“This is particularly noticeable among the migrant workers and students who leave their home villages to work or study in the urban areas and need financial connection with their family.”

Nikkei on January 4 announced that Bakong had won one of the Awards for Excellence in the 2021 Nikkei Superior Products and Services Awards “for its innovative technology and impact on the country’s economic and social development”.


  • Hong Kong firm done buying Coke Cambodia

    Swire Coca-Cola Ltd, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Hong Kong-listed Swire Pacific Ltd, on November 25 announced that it had completed the acquisition of The Coca-Cola Co’s bottling business in Cambodia, as part of its ambitions to expand into the Southeast Asian market. Swire Coca-Cola affirmed

  • Cambodia's Bokator now officially in World Heritage List

    UNESCO has officially inscribed Cambodia’s “Kun Lbokator”, commonly known as Bokator, on the World Heritage List, according to Minister of Culture and Fine Arts Phoeurng Sackona in her brief report to Prime Minister Hun Sen on the night of November 29. Her report, which was

  • NagaWorld union leader arrested at airport after Australia trip

    Chhim Sithar, head of the Labour Rights Supported Union of Khmer Employees at NagaWorld integrated casino resort, was arrested on November 26 at Phnom Penh International Airport and placed in pre-trial detention after returning from a 12-day trip to Australia. Phnom Penh Municipal Court Investigating Judge

  • Angkor Beer, 30 Years of Prestige and Still Counting

    Let’s celebrate 30 years of prestige with Angkor Beer. In this 2022, Angkor Beer is 30 years old and has been staying with Cambodian hearts in all circumstances. Head of core beer portfolio, EmYuthousaid, “We have been with Cambodians for three decades now. We, ANGKOR Beer, pride

  • Sub-Decree approves $30M for mine clearance

    The Cambodian government established the ‘Mine-Free Cambodia 2025 Foundation’, and released an initial budget of $30 million. Based on the progress of the foundation in 2023, 2024 and 2025, more funds will be added from the national budget and other sources. In a sub-decree signed by Prime Minister Hun Sen

  • Two senior GDP officials defect to CPP

    Two senior officials of the Grassroots Democratic Party (GDP) have asked to join the Cambodian People’s Party (CPP), after apparently failing to forge a political alliance in the run-up to the 2023 general election. Yang Saing Koma, chairman of the GDP board, and Lek Sothear,