IBM in a press release has announced that Bank of Thailand (BOT), the central bank, has successfully launched the world’s first blockchain-based platform for government savings bonds issuing a total of $1.6B USD within two weeks.
Leveraging blockchain technology on the highly secured IBM Cloud, the platform allows investors to benefit from speedy bond issuance, reducing a process that previously took 15 days to two days. The efficiency provided by blockchain also reduces operational complexity and the overall cost of issuing bonds. According to The Thai Bond Market Association, the outstanding Thai bond market stood at $421B USD as of December 2019. Government bonds dominate the Thai market, with outstanding value of $157B USD in 2019 1, accounting for 37% of the total outstanding Thai bond market.
In the past, the sale of government savings bonds was a complex, multiparty, time-consuming process that relied on a non-real-time system, with duplicated validation steps and manual reconciliation prone to data errors.
As blockchain technology streamlines the processes of bond issuance for issuers, underwriters, registrars, investors and key ecosystem participants, the government savings bond platform now becomes an immutable, real-time single source of truth for network participants, which minimizes the redundant validation and reduces the costs of reconciliation. In addition, Thai investors can now purchase bonds up to the maximum value of their individual allocated quota from a single bank.
The effort to develop a secure and efficient government bond infrastructure involved collaboration among eight institutions including BOT, Public Debt Management Office, Thailand Securities Depository Co., Ltd, Thai Bond Market Association and selling-agent banks, including Bangkok Bank, Krungthai Bank, Kasikorn Bank, and Siam Commercial Bank, with IBM Blockchain as technology and cloud platform partner.
“Bank of Thailand’s success with the government savings bond project is the latest example of how blockchain technology can redefine the way businesses operate by simplifying complex processes resulting in fast, transparent, secured and efficient multiparty collaboration,” said Patama Chantaruck, VP for Indochina Expansion and MD of IBM Thailand. “IBM is proud to bring our world-class blockchain platform and IBM Cloud to support Bank of Thailand, and work side-by-side with them in achieving this important milestone for Thailand’s financial industry.”
Bank of Thailand now plans to extend blockchain to all other government bonds targeting both retail and wholesale investors.
Thailand is an active adopter of blockchain technology, with a dynamic ecosystem extending to both public and private spheres. In 2019, the electronic letter of guarantee (eLG) platform and network participated in by 22 Thai banks and 15 companies successfully went live and currently handles approximately $300M USD in guarantee letters. Thai Customs Department also became the second government agency in southeast Asia to use TradeLens, a blockchain-based global trade digitization platform that improves the speed, accuracy and security of local and international shipping activities. More pilots and applications of blockchain are also being rolled out to bring transparency and efficiency to finance, insurance, government and other sectors.