Kazakhstan Launches Digital Tenge in Pilot Phase, Conducts First Retail Transaction

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  • Kazakhstan launches digital tenge in pilot phase, completes first retail transaction.
  • Binur Zhalenov conducts historic retail transaction using Kazakhstan’s digital tenge.
  • Visa and Mastercard support integration of digital tenge, expanding its financial applications.

Kazakhstan marked a historic moment on November 15th as it officially introduced its central bank digital currency (CBDC), the digital tenge, in a limited pilot mode involving real users. The National Bank of Kazakhstan collaborated with second-tier banks and their clients to initiate this significant step in the country’s digital currency journey.

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Binur Zhalenov, Chairman of Kazakhstan’s National Payment Corporation (NPC), conducted the inaugural retail transaction using the digital tenge through a debit card linked to the CBDC account. The transaction marked a milestone, showcasing the versatility of the digital tenge in everyday retail scenarios.

Payment giants Visa and Mastercard are supporting the integration of the digital tenge on cards, facilitating its use in various financial transactions. Zhalenov announced the launch at the XI Congress of Finance in Almaty, expressing optimism about the platform’s large-scale development in collaboration with financial market participants.

The digital tenge, with applications ranging from smart contracts to digital asset transactions, is poised to undergo further development. Offline payments are set to be enabled by 2024, with cross-border trade integration expected by 2025.

The complete rollout of the digital tenge is scheduled for conclusion by the end of 2025, promising expanded services, diverse application scenarios, and increased participation from platform users.

As the world witnesses a surge in central bank digital currencies (CBDCs), research indicates that CBDC payments could reach a value of $213 billion annually by 2030, a substantial increase from $100 million in 2023.

A study by Juniper Research predicts that 92% of CBDC transactions’ total value will be paid domestically by 2030, marking a shift from the nearly 100% recorded during the current pilot stages in 2023.

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