Her Excellency Serey Chea was once an ambitious girl dreaming of becoming an astronaut. She found herself taking a different path in her career. Born in Cambodia, she was self-conscious about her nationality, feeling that international employers would make assumptions about it. Instead of pursuing her childhood dreams, she followed in her father’s footsteps and studied accounting. Despite her initial unwillingness, she climbed the ranks and now heads a groundbreaking project, Project Bakong, which can potentially transform Cambodia’s future.
In an op-ed titled “Meet the Woman Behind Cambodia’s Moonshot Blockchain Project,” Emfarsis Director Leah Callon-Butler referred to Project Bakong as NBC’s moonshot. The project aims to improve the lives of millions and sets a precedent for modern infrastructure in developing countries by launching a blockchain-based “backbone payments system.” While it shares similarities with central bank digital currencies (CBDCs), it does not fit the traditional definition. Leah observed that Project Bakong had caught the crypto community’s attention due to its innovative approach. As CBDCs were gaining traction worldwide, Leah emphasized that Project Bakong offered Cambodia an opportunity to include marginalized communities and regain monetary sovereignty after years of dollarization.
“For Chea, this harrowing story underpins her fight for women’s financial inclusion and economic empowerment. Every time she looks into her little boy’s eyes, she is reminded of the transformative potential of fintech to allow women to take control of their livelihoods, assert their independence, invest in themselves and participate meaningfully in society.”
— Leah Callon-Butler
Leah suggested that Project Bakong is a crucial solution for Cambodia’s financial sector, which lacked a real-time gross settlement system. The project enables instant and free peer-to-peer payments, faster settlements, and reduced transaction fees by bringing financial institutions onto a standard and interoperable platform. Through an app, individuals can access Project Bakong’s services, eliminating the need for physical visits to financial institutions.