There has been mixed news for the central Bank of Korea (BOK) as it prepares to launch its first pilot for the digital won.

The bank is still yet to make an official decision on whether it will actually launch the central bank digital currency (CBDC) or not, but recently claimed that it would deliberate on the matter once the pilot is complete.

Per ZDNet Korea, a consortium has already expressed its willingness to take part in the project. Led by consulting EY’s South Korea operation EY Hanyoung, the group also comprises Samsung’s blockchain technology and IT services arm Samsung SDS, as well as Naver-Line. The latter is the web giant Naver – the South Korean answer to Google – and its crypto-keen chat app affiliate Line, which also announced this week that it is in talks with an unnamed Asian nation about CBDC issuance.

However, the BOK had hoped other firms would also come forward and take part in a bidding process. The deadline for applications to take part in the pilot was originally set for October 19. However, the BOK has since extended this deadline to October 29 after no more companies besides the EY-led consortium submitted official applications.

If no other bidders approach the BOK before this date, only the EY-led proposal will be considered.

The EY consortium would see the consultant act in a management role, with Samsung SDS and Naver-Line in charge of the system architecture.

A budget of USD 70,000 has been set aside for the project, which will be carried out in 2021.

However, it appears that the BOK may have set the bar prohibitively high with its bidding requirements.

ZDNet Korea quoted an unnamed industry insider as confirming that “there are many companies who want to take part in testing, but few are qualified enough to do so.”

The source added that “designing a CBDC business model” is one of the BOK’s requirements – a task that appears to be beyond many companies who feel better-equipped to tackle more practical CBDC issuance-related matters.


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