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Southeast Asia welcomes blockchain tech

A growing number of central banks across the region are turning to blockchain technology both for investment and as a way to address financial system limitations.

Southeast Asia is quickly becoming a haven for blockchain technology and its myriad applications, independent blockchain and crypto-focused website Modern Consensus reports.

On its article posted on April 12, Modern Consensus notes that more and more central banks from this region are embracing blockchain technology to provide better access to banking services, to improve interbank payments, and to add more alternatives for cross-border settlements.

“Serving the unbanked and leapfrogging inefficient interbank and international settlement systems are the major focus,” the article says.

It went on to enumerate some of the Southeast Asian countries’ respective foray into blockchain technology.

Cambodia
Cambodia’s National Bank is looking at blockchain technology for payments by commercial banks and consumers.  Authorities are also exploring the tech as a way to link unbanked Cambodians to commercial bank accounts to encourage them to save and achieve financial stability.

Indonesia
Its central bank, Bank Indonesia, is planning a 2020 rollout of its own cryptocurrency, the digital rupiah.  Apart from this ambitious endeavor, Modern Consensus also notes that five of the country’s major banks are looking at some of the applications of blockchain technology that can be of use to them.  Indonesia just released its official regulations on cryptocurrency exchanges and digital assets.

Thailand
Following suit in creating its own digital currency is Thailand.  Its central bank, Bank of Thailand, also bared plans of releasing its own cryptocurrency although no further details have been released yet.  Blockchain technology is also poised to be utilized for bond issuance, supply chain financing, and document authentication.  At present, the tech is already being used for remittances and fund transfer.

Singapore
Singapore’s central bank, Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS), is also exploring the possibility of its own digital currency although that plan has been shelved as of the moment.  Presently, blockchain technology is being used for cross-border and smart-contract payments as well as funds and securities transfer.  To add, BitChikka reported Singapore’s e-commerce site Qoo10’s plans to use blockchain technology for its platform transactions.

Philippines
Modern Consensus notes the growing number of fintech initiatives in the country that have already been covered by BitChikka.  These include the increasing number of licensed cryptocurrency exchanges both by Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) and Cagayan Economic Zone Authority (CEZA).  It also mentioned Unionbank’s rolling out of cryptocurrency ATMs, Coin.ph’s partnership with Western Union, and Rizal Commercial Banking Corporation’s plans to release a peso-based stable coin to be circulated on Stellar-powered IBM Blockchain World Wire platform.

Vietnam
Among the countries encompassed by Southeast Asia, Vietnam seems to be the only one that clearly resists blockchain technology and the proliferation of cryptocurrencies.  While that remains true in comparison to its neighbors (Vietnam recently banned digital asset trading and importing of crypto mining-dedicated computers), Modern Consensus notes a steady thawing of such mindset.  In fact, Vietnamese company Linh Thanh Group just inked a partnership with blockchain-based  KRONN Ventures AG.  This agreement is seen as bringing the country a step closer to establishing its own licensed cryptocurrency exchange.

Southeast Asia is fast becoming one of the preferred regions for blockchain technology-run platforms and cryptocurrency exchanges. And with more blockchain-based plans in the pipeline, there is no indication that things will change anytime soon.

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Written by Lea Reyes

Lea Sicat Reyes is a freelance journalist based in Negros Oriental, Philippines. She has held various teaching and writing posts since 2005. Currently, she is a school administrator for a local middle school and is a columnist and editor for the Negros Chronicle.

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