The Bank of Thailand has awarded a contract to develop a retail central bank digital currency (CBDC) prototype to Giesecke+Devrient Currency Technology GmbH. Its parent Giesecke+Devrient (G+D), is a major provider of central bank infrastructure.
The award, first reported by the Chinese press, was published on a Thai procurement site and valued the ‘proof of concept’ (PoC) prototype at ten million Baht ($320,000).
While many companies are lobbying to participate in CBDC, the low profile G+D has been in the mix for some time. It developed its Filia solution, which it says “provides privacy to the user while still meeting the required compliance requirements of the central bank in order to prevent money laundering or tax evasion.” The solution gives the central bank the option of a centralized database approach or the use of distributed ledger technology (DLT).
While one might conclude that Giesecke+Devrient Currency Technology refers to CBDC, the core business is helping central banks manage banknotes. The division accounted for 45% of its €2.3 billion ($2.8 bn) 2020 revenues. It also earns significant revenues from mobile security and smaller amounts for digital identity and securing infrastructures. This combination of expertise would appeal to central banks.
A question remains about where the G+D project fits within Thailand’s other CBDC activities. In October last year, ConsenSys announced that it was working with the Bank of Thailand and Siam Cement subsidiary Digital Ventures on a retail CBDC or digital Baht using enterprise Ethereum technology. The central bank and ConsenSys are also collaborating with the Hong Kong Monetary Authority (HKMA) for cross border CBDC. More recently, China’s and the UAE’s central bank have joined the Multi-CBDC project under the umbrella of the BIS Innovation Hub.
While Thailand ranks around 25th spot in global GDP, its central bank has punched well above its weight when it comes to CBDC research. Before the retail CBDC project, it conducted its Project Inthanon initiative based on R3’s Corda in conjunction with CryptoBLK.