Tokyo FinTech
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Tokyo FinTech

Bank of Thailand scopes CBDC Pilot

The Bank of Thailand (BOT) has been among the first central banks to recognize the importance of CBDC as a novel financial infrastructure, and has previously conducted Wholesale CBDC projects and Proof-of- Concept Retail CBDC testing with corporates.

The former include Project Inthanon and Project Inthanon-LionRock, which was conducted in partnership with the Hong Kong Monetary Authority (HKMA) and has since been extended to become Project mBridge with the joining of the Central Bank of the United Arab Emirates and the Digital Currency Institute of the People’s Bank of China. For the latter, the BOT has conducted a separate CBDC project involving the corporate sector by collaborating with the Siam Cement Public Company Limited and Digital Ventures Company Limited.

Based on this experience, the BOT deems it necessary to extend the scope of Retail CBDC development to a Pilot phase in which real-life application of Retail CBDC will be conducted in cooperation with the private sector within a limited scale. The BOT will assess the benefits and associated risks from the Pilot in order to formulate related policies and improve the CBDC design in the future.

The Pilot will be separated into two tracks, as follows:

  • Foundation track to assess the system’s efficiency and safety including the technological design. During this phase, CBDC will be used in conducting cash-like activities, such as paying for goods and services, within limited areas and scale of approximately 10,000 retail users selected by the BOT along with three companies, namely the Bank of Ayudhya, Siam Commercial Bank, and 2C2P — due to the limited scale and timeframe for the Pilot, the BOT has set criteria to select only 3 participating companies. This phase of testing will adopt technology developed by Giesecke+Devrient and is expected to begin at the end of 2022 and last until mid-2023.
  • Innovation track to focus on programmability which will facilitate the development of innovative use cases for CBDC, resulting in new financial services for a wide range of customers. This will help the BOT develop and improve the design of CBDC to suit the Thai context in the future. The BOT will allow the private sector and the public to participate in presenting business use cases for Retail CBDC via a “CBDC Hackathon”.

As other central banks before them, the BOT reiterates that this Retail CBDC Pilot is part of the study and development of Retail CBDC to assess the suitability of technology and CBDC design. At present, the BOT does not have plans to issue Retail CBDC as the issuance requires thorough consideration of benefits and associated risks for the financial system.

CBDC Hackathon

The BOT is organizing the CBDC Hackathon as a competition to present ideas on the application of central bank digital currency (CBDC). Anyone interested in participating in the design and development of Thai Retail CBDCs to maximize benefits for the Thai financial system is invited to participate.

Scope

Competitors must present an idea of applying Retail CBDC to create innovative use cases by using the programmability of Retail CBDCs to create services that benefit businesses, citizens, or the state, or help solve problems in a way that the current payment system cannot.

Such use case must be based on the architectural structure of the Retail CBDC that the BOT is in the process of designing and testing in the Pilot phase, and has enough detail and clarity for further development.

Deliverables

Competitor must prepare a document to present their use case with at least the following details:

  • Problem that needs to be solved, including the importance of the problem group affected by the problem
  • Use case in applying Retail CBDC that addresses such problem, or a new business opportunity that is beneficial to the real economic sector and Thai competitiveness. The use case should be feasible (sic!) and clear in terms of the benefits it delivers to citizens, businesses or government sectors
  • Details of the business model, highlighting the features that the current financial system cannot support, or that increase efficiency. The roles of the various players, the incentives and the risks need to be explained
  • The technical design need to demonstrate the connectivity of the Retail CBDC (integration model), details of the initial technical solution, as well as suggestions for improving the architecture of Retail CBDC (if any). Risks and privacy aspects need to be covered.

Timeline

Online applications can be submitted until September 12 through the BOT website. The CBDC Hackathon will run from October 1 to 22, with the winners announced on October 28.

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Norbert Gehrke

Norbert Gehrke

Passionate about strategy & innovation across Asia. At home in Japan. Connector of people & ideas.