Project Bakong: A Pioneering Real-Time Gross Payment System Promoting Financial Inclusion Using Blockchain Technology
TOKYO, JAPAN / ACCESSWIRE / January 31, 2020 / Soramitsu Co., Ltd. (Shibuya-ku, Tokyo, Japan; hereafter Soramitsu) and the National Bank of Cambodia are collaborating on Project Bakong, a next-generation real-time gross payment system that promotes financial inclusion through user-friendly and powerful iOS and Android apps.
Bakong allows banks to save substantial cost and development time, and reach a whole new user base while increasing speed and efficiency. It also allows the central bank to monitor the activity of the whole system and leverage a much faster and safer financial infrastructure.
While most blockchain systems currently developed by central banks are only in the proof-of- concept phase, Bakong is already connecting 9 banks and payment processors, including the country's largest commercial bank, and has thousands of active users making daily transactions using real money.
Figure 1: Participating banks connect to the Bakong platform that uses the Hyperledger Iroha blockchain. End users (banks, corporations, or retail) connect to the gateways provided by each bank and can send payments to each other through the platform; as the regulator, NBC also monitors the entire system, which can provide new opportunities for bank supervision.
From a central bank's perspective, the Bakong technology is an easy-to-adopt evolution in technology: Bakong does not break current monetary policy or the legacy banking system, but rather makes it more efficient and secure. While legacy settlement systems in Cambodia perform batch settlements twice a day, Bakong enables near-instant, real-time interbank settlements.
Figure 2: Comparison of existing transfer scenario with typical bank accounts with Bakong transfer scenario. Bakong accounts interface seamlessly with both other Bakong accounts and existing bank accounts.
Thanks to the Hyperledger Iroha permissioned blockchain primarily developed by Soramitsu, any bank or financial institution can plug into the Bakong platform which is monitored and supervised by the National Bank of Cambodia.
The ISO 20022 standard messaging format makes it simple for any bank's core banking system to integrate with the platform. Bakong automatically provides full interoperability between all of the connected banks, and every payment between users of any participating bank leverages Bakong's real-time settlement.
ACCESS TO A WHOLE NEW CUSTOMER BASE
According to the World Bank, 78% of citizens over 15 years old are unbanked in the Kingdom of Cambodia, while widely unbanked rural areas are seeing an explosion of smartphone use. With Bakong, every citizen can access banking services using just their smartphone. Users can open a Bakong account with any bank connected to the network, even if they don't own a traditional account at the bank. In other words, Bakong opens up the ability to more easily serve the entire unbanked population, which was previously difficult to access for Cambodian financial institutions.
As Makoto Takemiya, the co-founder and CEO of Soramitsu states, "Our work on Bakong in Cambodia has been not only revolutionary from a historical perspective, as it is the first central bank in the world using a blockchain system with real money for retail payments, but it has been a fulfilling and satisfying application of the Hyperledger Iroha technology to democratize digital asset management and access to payments."
THE NEXT GENERATION OF FINANCIAL SERVICES
Onboarding new users is expedient, thanks to a user-friendly KYC process that requires only a smartphone and an ID document, for identification and selfie verification. Citizens and businesses can immediately access a world of instant domestic and cross-border payments, at a reduced cost.
As recently reported by Coindesk:
The National Bank of Cambodia (NBC) recently signed an agreement with Malaysia's Maybank to determine how the banks' respective digital payment platforms – Bakong and Maybank2u – can work in tandem to reduce often crippling remittance fees.
Payments between the sender's pre-charged account and the receiver's account can be made easily thanks to QR codes. The QR codes are EMVCO compatible, which allowed NBC to sign a memorandum with the Central Bank of Thailand for the introduction of a QR code based payment system that can be used with both currencies and in both countries.
Soramitsu is a boutique Japanese fin tech company with expertise creating blockchain-based infrastructure, payment systems, and identity solutions.
– Together with the National Bank of Cambodia, Soramitsu developed the Bakong system to develop financial inclusion while enhancing monetary policy efficacy, through the creation of a next-generation retail payment system.
– Soramitsu is the original developer and one of the main contributors of Hyperledger Iroha, an open-source, permissioned blockchain platform aimed at helping businesses and financial institutions manage digital assets and digital identity. Hyperledger Iroha is part of the Linux Foundation's Hyperledger Project.
– Soramitsu was chosen by the Web3 Foundation to develop Kagome, the C++ implementation of Polkadot, the decentralized Web 3.0 blockchain interoperability platform.
– Soramitsu is the developer of Sora, a decentralized economic system to enable startups and creatives. See sora.org for more information.
Soramitsu's expertise and real-world experience running production blockchain systems allows us to quickly deliver secure and efficient applications. Based on the Bakong experience, we are aiming to extend these financial technologies globally, to allow unbanked people anywhere to transfer value inexpensively, and ensure commercial development in currently widely unbanked areas. Other financial products and capabilities are being developed for the Bakong system to broaden potential of the system.
About the National Bank of Cambodia
The National Bank of Cambodia is the central bank and financial regulator for the Kingdom of Cambodia.
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SOURCE: Soramitsu Co., Ltd.