The central bank of Cambodia will launch a “blockchain-based” digital currency before the end of this fiscal quarter, Chea Serey, director-general of the National Bank of Cambodia, told the Phnom Penh Post earlier this week. 

Serey said the scheme, called “Project Bakong,” is “the national payment gateway for Cambodia.” Users of the closed system can connect a wallet to their bank accounts and convert their fiat currencies to the new digital currency. The blockchain-based currency could then be used for everyday payments from mobile platforms.

“Bakong will play a central role in bringing all players in the payment space in Cambodia under the same platform, making it easy for end-users to pay each other regardless of the institutions they bank with,” Serey said. “Eventually, we hope to allow cross border payment through the Bakong system too,” she added.

It has been trialed since July, and now has the support of eleven banks, according to the national bank official. Serey said she expects more will join soon.

The Phnom Penh Commercial Bank (PPCBank) already uses the system at all of its branches, the president of the bank, Chang Moo, told the Post. He said it's cheaper and more convenient than credit and debit cards.

But because it’s a public system, Moo said that banks will lose some of their market share to Bakong, “at least in the short term.” Overall, however, it’s a good thing: “Bakong will eventually create financially inclusive ecosystems that all the stakeholders in the industry can benefit from,” he said.