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Hong Kong and Thailand Launching Blockchain-Based Settlement Network

December 8, 2019


Hong Kong and Thailand Launching Blockchain-Based Settlement Network

A two-tier digital currency is proposed between Hong Kong and Thailand financial supervisors, who apparently aim for cross-border monetary settlements between the two nations.

While both HK and Thailand are directly linked to China, it appears that local financiers are planning on using some sort of a distributed ledger technology, even if the term was avoided by South China Morning Post (SCMP) who reported the mutual partnership, essentially to create a private fintech infrastructure specifically tailored for the involved parties.   

It seems that after HSBC, ING, JPM, and all the key western banking players, their Asian counterparts see the potential in blockchain-technology in the regulated banking sector as well.

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According to the source, the prototype two-tier system relies its first-tier on something labeled as ‘Project LionRock-Inthanon’.

Essentially a merger of expertise as provided by Hong Kong Monetary Authority’s (HKMA) Project LionRock, and the Bank of Thailand’s Project Inthanon respectively, which promises to transform wholesale cross-border payments with streamlined intermediation model, real-time transfers and atomic Payment versus Payment (PvP) settlements. Note how this is not an MMORPG game. 

Some of the tier-one features include but are not limited to: improved cross-border settlement efficiency, improved liquidity management efficiency, compliance with local regulations, and a prospect for wider adoption due to the extensible architecture.

While the second tier of the proposed digital payments infrastructure is not fully transparent, from what we know so far it would involve the commercial banks subject in the partnership, which will be eligible to distribute the digital tokens to their respective customers enabling settlements with other banks, or even with other companies, a representative of HKMA told SCMP. 

Looking at the official Project LionRock-Inthanon one-pager, we can identify HSBC, ZA, Bangkong Bank, and Krungthai, among other financial institutions, while surprisingly enough, scrolling to the contributing developers’ sector that will build the private distributed ledger, we can find none else than R3.  

Last year the bilateral trade between the two economies was nearing $20 billion worth of USD in Hong Kong dollars and Thai baht. The new blockchain-based settlement system promises to speed up the monetary processes between the two countries and also enable more competitive exchange rates between the two national currencies.  

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When compared to DC/EP, HKMA’s director Edmond Lau said that unlike China’s CBDC (central bank digital currency) which will practically replace fiat currency full-scale to enable instant retail transactions, Project LionRock-Inthanon is focused on enabling cross-border settlements between banks and enterprises, implying that it shouldn’t be considered as a competitor to DC/EP, but rather as a different service.   

Furthermore, Lau added that the collaboration between HKMA and the Bank of Thailand is still under development and more details regarding their proof-of-concept shall be available in Q1 2020.