Singapore and Cambodia Exploring Digital Currencies to Boost e-Commerce

ASEAN countries are fast becoming a global hub for payment digitization with Singapore and Cambodia amongst those experimenting with digital currencies to boost their e-commerce industry. As reported by the South China Morning Post (SCMP), these countries are not just adopting cryptocurrencies for e-commerce, the aim is to also boost the payment ecosystem while also powering start-ups that utilize the digital assets.

“Southeast Asia has been a very fertile ground for digital payment innovation,” Benedicte Nolens, head of the Hong Kong center of the Bank for International Settlements (BIS) Innovation Hub, said during a panel discussion. “When you see online e-commerce growth, typically it goes fairly well with new payment mechanisms.”

Steady Growth of Digital Innovations

Both Singapore and Cambodia have made significant milestones in encouraging the growth of digital assets in the past few years. Singapore for instance has enacted a lot of forward-thinking regulations that have stirred the growth of startups by more than 10 times since 2015. The allowance of the country to the new innovations has also seen its biggest bank, DBS float a regulated trading platform for cryptocurrencies.

Besides permitting the growth of private digital currencies, Singapore also has an active and functional involvement in its Central Bank Digital Currency (CBDC) research. 

“It is a very interesting progression here in Singapore because more people are interested in cryptocurrencies,” said Frederick Fung, chairman of the Association of Crypto Currency Enterprises and Start-ups in Singapore. He said it was not just the young who were interested in cryptocurrencies – older customers were also adopting digital payments.

The Cambodian nation has also been quite receptive to crypto and digital payments innovations as the economy handlers seek to move to a more internet-enabled world. 

“There is a lot of room to grow in the internet economy in Southeast Asia. Cambodia is a small country of 16 million people, where we have about 20 million mobile phone subscriptions,” said Serey Chea, Assistant Governor of the National Bank of Cambodia, adding that “It’s like a newborn baby who immediately is given a mobile phone subscription, or two or three subscriptions.”

Many countries are yet to recover fully from the pangs of the COVID-19 pandemic which is still raging after about 2 years. The ongoing war between Ukraine and Russia has further highlighted how Bitcoin (BTC) and cryptocurrencies, in general, can be a force for good, especially when traditional payment systems become censored.