Kazakhstan officially introduced its central bank digital currency (CBDC), the digital tenge, on November 15th, operating within a “limited environment with real users.” The National Bank of Kazakhstan initiated the pilot phase in collaboration with second-tier banks and their clients.
While the Central Asian country’s plans for a CBDC date back to 2021, it wasn’t until this February that the authorities actually kicked off its development.
Kazakhstan’s First Retail Transaction With CBDC
Binur Zhalenov, Chairman of Kazakhstan’s National Payment Corporation (NPC), conducted the first-ever retail transaction using the digital tenge through a debit card linked to the CBDC account, marking a significant milestone.
Kazakhstan has tapped payment giants Visa and Mastercard to support the integration of digital tenge on cards. Speaking at the XI Congress of Finance in Almaty on November 25th, Zhalenov said,
“Today we will launch the digital tenge into retail circulation, and next year we are counting on the large-scale development of the platform together with our partners, financial market participants, more and more innovative services will appear.”
Zhalenov highlighted the digital tenge’s versatility for applications like smart contracts, financial services, and digital asset transactions. The upcoming focus of CBDC development includes enabling offline payments in 2024 and integrating cross-border trade by 2025.
In short, the complete rollout of the digital tenge is set for conclusion by the end of 2025, which would be expanded services, application scenarios, and increased involvement of platform participants.
CBDCs Around the World
With several countries gearing up to roll out digitized versions of their legal tenders, research suggests that the value in CBDC payments is expected to reach $213 billion annually by 2030, up from just $100 million in 2023.
According to a recently published study by Juniper Research, 92% of the total value transacted via CBDCs is estimated to be paid domestically by 2030, which reflects a change from almost 100% during the current pilot stages as of 2023.
The central bank digital currency (CBDC) issued by Banco Central do Brasil is expected to be introduced in 2024, with its primary goal being to enhance financial services in the country.
Digital Euro, on the other hand, is due to be finalized at the end of 2025. The ECB Governing Council recently confirmed that the project concluded a 2-year research phase and has now moved to the preparation stage.
Earlier this month, the National Bank of Georgia (NBG) revealed it had picked blockchain company Ripple as its official technology partner for the Digital Lari (GEL) pilot project.