Soramitsu: The Blockchain Startup Behind Cambodia’s Bakong System

Soramitsu, a Japanese blockchain startup, caught the attention of the National Bank of Cambodia in 2016 when it received a Telegram message requesting a pilot project. The message was initially dismissed as a scam, but it turned out to be legitimate. This encounter led to the launch of Bakong, a blockchain-based payment system that allows users to instantly send money in U.S. dollars or riel. The Bakong system has gained significant traction, with 8.5 million accounts and $12.2 billion worth of transactions processed in 2022. Soramitsu has since become a leading developer of digital payment systems in Southeast Asia.

Despite its success, Soramitsu remains relatively unknown in the banking sector. However, the company has capitalized on the low barriers to entry in the region. As the only prominent player in Southeast Asia, Soramitsu has been able to secure projects with central banks in Laos, Vietnam, and the Philippines. The company is also working on expanding an Asian cross-border payments system in collaboration with Mitsubishi UFJ Trust and Banking Corporation.

Soramitsu, which describes itself as a “boutique blockchain company,” currently has around 150 employees and generates an annual revenue of approximately $20 million. The company has received grants from Japanese government agencies to conduct feasibility studies and pilots for digital currency programs in various countries.

One of Soramitsu’s notable achievements is Bakong, which is often referred to as a central bank digital currency (CBDC). While it does not fit the technical definition of a CBDC, Bakong has been praised for its successful implementation and its role in improving Cambodia’s payment systems. The project has been supported by the former director-general of the Cambodian central bank, Chea Serey, who played a key role in its launch.

Soramitsu’s success can be attributed to its partnership with Japanese public funds and its ability to navigate the evolving landscape of digital currencies. The company’s projects in Southeast Asia have positioned it as a key player in the region. With its expertise and innovative solutions, Soramitsu continues to drive advancements in digital payments and blockchain technology.

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