South Korean internet giants bid for central bank digital currency pilot



Affiliates of South Korean internet giants Naver and Kakao are among the top contenders to work on the country’s first central bank digital currency (CBDC) pilots.

On Monday, the Bank of Korea (BoK) announced the preliminary bid results for participating digital won pilots, local news agency Yonhap reported. Kakao’s blockchain subsidiary Ground X, Naver-affiliated Line Plus and conglomerate SK Group were the top three companies that submitted applications for a 10-month CBDC pilot contract.

The BoK now plans to select an operator to run a blockchain-based simulation project for the digital won. The bank expects to reach a decision next month. The pilot will run until June 2022, with a research budget of 4.96 billion won ($4.3 million).

According to the report, the pilot aims to test the CBDC in a virtual simulation environment based on distributed ledger technology. The BoK intends to explore potential use cases related to CBDC issuance, redemption, electronic payments and settlement, and purchases of digital artworks and copyrights.

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The BoK launched the bidding process to choose a tech partner for studying the benefits and implications of launching a CBDC in May. The central bank previously published a book on CBDCs in February, officially announcing the country’s plans to test the distribution of a digital won.

The news comes shortly after Line Plus released its own blockchain platform optimized for issuing and maintaining a CBDC. The new open-source project is based on Line’s own blockchain technology and is designed to support confidentiality-focused payments and high-speed transactions.