Bank of Thailand to Test Retail CBDC in Q2 2022

  • Both the public and private sectors have until 15 June to submit their feedback regarding the bank’s plans to issue a retail digital baht.
  • While the first tests of the CBDC have been scheduled for Q2 2022, the bank could fully implement the retail digital currency in the next three to five years.
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The Bank of Thailand (BoT) is looking for feedback on its plans to begin testing retail Central Bank Digital Currency (CBDC) in the second quarter of 2022, the central bank said in a press release on 2 April.

According to the announcement, the public has until 15 June to give its feedback on the BoT’s CBDC roadmap, which lays down the bank’s approach in issuing a retail CBDC in a 59-page paper. The bank’s report indicates that preliminary tests of the digital currency are scheduled to begin in the second quarter of 2022, while a full implementation could happen in the next 3 to 5 years. The bank said in its report:

“We believe that a retail CBDC would provide a valuable option for citizens to benefit from a digital currency that is accessible, reliable and safe. It would also lay the groundwork for a safe payment infrastructure, building the foundation for interoperability and collaboration with the private sector to drive financial innovation.”

The bank also stated that developing a CBDC comes with its unique risks and challenges, which is why any development efforts should “take into account policy implications, design decisions and risk mitigation measures”. To that end, the bank has proposed adding withdrawal limits to the CBDC — among other transaction friction protocols — in order to reduce the possibility of bank runs.

The BoT further said one of the reasons for it to explore retail CBDC implementation was that a success of private stablecoins could pose a risk to its financial stability. A retail digital baht could serve as a “trusted and safe” means of payment, safeguarding the stability of the Thai financial and monetary system in the “new financial landscape”.

This is not the first time Thailand’s central bank has worked on a CBDC project. The BoT has been engaged in researching a wholesale digital currency through Project Inthanon — which focuses on interbank payments only — since 2018. Back in July 2020, the bank revealed it had already made financial transactions with a number of businesses using its digital baht.

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