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Thailand moves closer to central bank digital currency

The R3 blockchain consortium and India’s IT multinational Wipro have announced their development of a blockchain-based solution prototype that will enable interbank settlements in Thailand.

In a regulatory filing, Wipro said that the prototype aims to enable digital currency for decentralised interbank real-time gross settlements (RTGSs) using a wholesale central bank digital currency (CBDC) for a consortium consisting of the Bank of Thailand (BoT) and eight of the country’s commercial banks.

The solution aims “to prove that the technology can perform key functionalities of payment and enhance efficiency,” it added.

“Building a blockchain prototype for issuing digital currency aligns with our vision of driving industry transformation through real-world applications of blockchain,” said Wipro vice-president and blockchain theme leader Krishnakumar N Menon.

Project Inthanon’s remit

Project Inthanon, as the initiative is known, is led by the BoT and theeight local banks. It was launched in August 2018 and aims to expand the technological expertise of Thailand’s financial sector by embracing new tech and digitalisation.

The BoT revealed at the time that its plan was to create a wholesale option of a CBDC that limits its use to financial institutions and markets, rather than a CBDC that would be opened up for use t0 the general public.

The first phase of the project focused on building the fundamental payment infrastructure, with the application of blockchain technology for other functionalities to be explored in the subsequent phases. The solution is based on R3’s Corda open source blockchain platform.

Last November, the BoT’s governor, Dr. Veerathai Santiprabhob, forecast that it would take between three and five years for global jurisdictions to move from fiat money to digital currencies.

Two weeks ago Thailand’s largest commercial bank, Siam Commercial Bank, announced that it had completed a blockchain test for cross-border business-to-business payments (B2B) together with state oil firm PTT Exploration and Production Public Company.

Earlier this month, the Thai Securities and Exchange Commission deputy secretary-general Tipsuda Thavaramara confirmed that newly introduced regulation in the country allows for the issuance of digital shares and tokenised securities.

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