The National Bank of Kazakhstan (NBK) has unveiled plans to establish a dedicated agency to develop and implement the country’s central bank digital currency (CBDC), the digital tenge.
In an official statement released on September 15, the NBK announced that it would reorganize the existing Kazakhstan Center for Interbank Settlements (KISC) to create the National Payment Corporation (NPC). This newly formed agency will inherit KISC’s current functions while also taking on new responsibilities.
The NPC’s mandate will extend to overseeing the national payment system, encompassing interbank clearing services, facilitating money transfers, and managing digital identification.
According to the NBK, the NPC would be responsible for
“the further development of the digital financial infrastructure, including through the implementation of the Digital Tenge and Open Banking projects.”
Though the plans had been in motion since May 2021, the NBK started the journey to develop a CBDC, the digital tenge, in February 2023, in collaboration with Binance. At the time, NBK deputy governor Berik Sholpankupov explained that the project is part of the bank’s vision of building a connection between traditional finance and DeFi that could increase financial inclusion and support international trade.
In August 2023, the NBK announced that it had successfully completed a pilot project and unveiled plans to roll out the Digital Tenge in three stages by 2025, with the first stage scheduled for the fall of 2023.
Notably, Kazakhstan’s CBDC project is also a part of the Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication (SWIFT)’s beta testing phase for a CBDC interlinking solution.
The NBK is one of the three central banks actively testing the solution by directly integrating it into their existing infrastructure. The interlinking solution is designed to address potential “fragmentation” that could arise as numerous countries worldwide develop their CBDCs for commercial use.
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