Siam Commercial Bank (SCB) and the Bank of Thailand (BOT) are working together to support the advancement of the country's digital currency infrastructure. Their latest endeavor involves the development of the CBDC SCB application, aimed at facilitating a retail CBDC (Central Bank Digital Currency) usage test.
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This pilot program is limited to a select group of whitelisted participants who will have the opportunity to try out the app's features, including topping up funds, scanning, making payments, transferring money, and converting CBDC back into regular currency. The entire process is conducted with the utmost care and adherence to safety standards, ensuring the test participants receive the same level of security as the bank's customers. This initiative showcases SCB's strength in digital technology, financial expertise, and available resources, as well as their commitment to collaborating with the BOT to build Thailand's future financial innovation infrastructure.
Dr. Chalee Asavathiratham, Senior Executive Vice President and Chief Digital Banking Officer at Siam Commercial Bank, noted that, “The Bank is dedicated to contributing its digital technology capabilities, financial expertise, and available resources to support the Central Bank Digital Currency (CBDC) project in partnership with the Bank of Thailand. We have developed the CBDC SCB application to test its functionalities, which include basic features such as topping up funds, making payments, transferring money, and converting CBDC back into regular currency. Testing for the application began in the Bank of Thailand premises in February 2023 and has since expanded to shops within Siam Commercial Bank's Headquarters premises at the end of May 2023. The testing phase will continue until around the third quarter of 2023, with over 3,000 participants in a limited circle, composed of employees of SCB and SCBX group companies. Participants on the whitelist are eligible to download the CBDC SCB app from the App Store or Play Store for registration. This app is specifically designed for the whitelist group, ensuring its exclusive usage. By connecting it to the SCB EASY app, whitelist participants can convert CBDC back into the corresponding amount of money in their accounts during the entire testing period, with one CBDC being equal to one baht. The safety standards applied to this process mirror those provided to the bank's regular customers.”
“Furthermore, the bank, in collaboration with the BOT and other CBDC service providers, is actively exploring additional innovations and advancements in the CBDC system to address various business challenges. It's important to note that this innovation track is solely a closed system test and does not involve application to project participants or shops. Currently, the retail CBDC remains a project under study, aligned with the BOT's principle of "Pilot to Learn, Not Pilot to Launch. The ongoing test involves a limited group of users and merchants on the whitelist, totaling approximately 10,000 individuals among CBDC service providers, with no immediate plans for actual implementation,” said Dr. Chalee.
To enhance the user experience and prioritize safety standards during the Retail CBDC usability testing, the bank has implemented the following improvements:
• Eligibility screening is mandatory for test participants.
• KYC identity verification and top-up procedures are conducted via integration with the SCB EASY application. The CBDC buyback schedule ensures funds are credited exclusively to the connected SCB account during the application period, instilling confidence in safety measures comparable to those applied when opening a bank account.
• The CBDC SCB application provides access to historical financial transactions for users.
• Participants can test the CBDC transfer feature using My QR, which allows them to conveniently save QR codes for future transactions.
• Thorough procedures and processes are in place to ensure test participants receive the same standard of care as the bank's regular customers. The project also offers a direct contact channel for support and assistance.
• The bank organizes activities to promote CBDC usage within its premises, encouraging project participants to actively engage and support the BOT's project in achieving the test objectives.
Retail CBDC represents a digital form of money, equivalent to holding banknotes, with the added advantage of minimizing associated risks. It serves as a crucial financial infrastructure that fosters connectivity and opens doors for future innovations, such as Open DLT Blockchain or Programmable Payment. This system aims to reduce reliance on intermediaries for exchange, enabling the people and businesses of Thailand to access financial services in new, convenient, fast, secure, and cost-effective ways.
The Bank of Thailand (BOT) is currently conducting limited testing of Retail CBDC without any investment funds involved. The rollout of Retail CBDC has not been extended on a wide scale at this stage. The CBDC App used in the testing project has been developed by three participating service providers: SCB, BAY, and 2C2P. It's important to note that the registration process for test participants has already taken place, and there are no further opportunities for additional individuals to join the testing phase. If the general public receives any notifications or download links related to Retail CBDC, it is crucial to disregard them and promptly inform the BOT to prevent others from falling victim to potential deception.