Kazakhstan Accelerates into the Digital Future with Launch of Digital Tenge

Kazakhstan’s financial landscape witnessed a historic moment as the National Bank officially inaugurated its digital tenge at the XI Congress of Finance in Almaty. The Chairman of the National Payment Corporation, Binur Zhalenov, marked the occasion by conducting the inaugural transaction, using a debit card linked to the central bank digital currency (CBDC) account.

The launch represents a significant step in Kazakhstan’s journey toward a cashless economy. Zhalenov highlighted the collaborative efforts with global payment giants Visa and Mastercard, as well as local banks, in seamlessly integrating the digital tenge into plastic cards. This integration enables users to make transactions globally through platforms like Apple Pay and Samsung Pay, providing a convenient and versatile payment experience.

The programmable nature of the digital tenge was underscored by Zhalenov, emphasizing its potential applications in smart contracts, innovative financial services, and digital asset transactions. The roadmap for the CBDC includes expanding into offline payments in 2024 and integration into cross-border trade by 2025.

The digital tenge project, initiated in February 2023, has progressed swiftly, with the National Payment Corporation taking the lead in its development and implementation. The launch signifies a strategic move by Kazakhstan to embrace the transformative potential of blockchain technology in the financial sector.

While the nation embarks on this digital financial journey, it’s noteworthy that regulatory scrutiny over the broader crypto market has intensified. Recent measures include restrictions on access to major international crypto exchanges without a local license and a plea from local crypto mining operators to reconsider newly introduced tax rates.

Kazakhstan’s digital tenge aligns with global trends, with central banks worldwide exploring the implementation of central bank digital currencies (CBDCs). The National Bank of Kazakhstan’s move is in line with the growing market size of CBDCs, which is projected to reach $213 billion by 2030, highlighting the expanding role of digital currencies in shaping the future of finance.