The National Bank of Kazakhstan (NBK) has launched the pilot of its central bank digital currency (CBDC) project, the “digital tenge,” according to a report published jointly by the bank and Binance on Feb. 3. The report looked at global approaches to digital asset regulation, the digital asset industry and decentralized finance (DeFi) in central Asia and the Commonwealth of Independent States.
In his introduction to the report, NBK deputy governor Berik Sholpankupov wrote about the bank’s vision of a “collaboration between traditional finance and DeFi” that could increase financial inclusion and support international trade. He added:
“In Kazakhstan, we also started a practical R&D project to explore how our CBDC – Digital Tenge, can bridge the world of crypto with traditional fiat payments infrastructure.”
Sholpankupov’s statement confirmed that the NBK is on time with plans set out in its official roadmap. Kazakhstan announced its digital tenge project in 2020. The project is set to run through the end of 2025. The report also stated:
“A Digital Tenge CDBC initiative […] Is already in a pilot phase using the controlled environment, real consumers and merchants. Currently, BNB Chain and NBK are testing CBDC integration with the [BNB] public decentralised blockchain to bridge the gap even further between traditional banking and crypto ecosystem.”
Kazakhstan’s Astana Financial Services Authority (ASFA) granted Binance a permanent license to manage a digital asset platform and provide custody services in October 2022. Later that month, the NBK said it would integrate its CBDC into the BNB Chain.
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On Jan. 27, the ASFA published a consultation paper examining the shortcomings of the Astana International Financial Centre’s Digital Asset Trading Facility (DATF) regulatory framework, which was developed in 2018. That report suggested additional risk mitigation measures and potential changes to the regulatory framework. Kazakhstan is one of the world’s largest Bitcoin (BTC) miners.