On 15 June 2021, the Prime Minister of Vietnam ratified the Decision No. 942/QD-TTg approving the e-Government development strategy towards the digital Government in the 2021 – 2025 period, with a vision to 2030 (“Decision 942”). Among others, it is worth noting that the Prime Minister instructed the State Bank of Vietnam to preside over the research and pilot program on blockchain-based cryptocurrency (or digital currency) in the period of 2021-2023.

The new mission of the State Bank of Vietnam, under Decision 942, follows several remarkable moves by the government recently. Specifically, blockchain technology was named as one of the technologies prioritized to study, develop and utilize in order to effectively adapt with the Fourth Industrial Revolution pursuant to the Decision No. 2117/QD-TTg dated 16 December 2020 by the Prime Minister. Before that, on 24 April 2020, the Ministry of Finance formed a group to carry out some study in terms of digital asset, digital currency to further propose management policies and mechanisms towards the aforesaid under the competent authority of the Ministry of Finance.

State Bank of Vietnam is assigned to research and pilot the blockchain-based cryptocurrency from 2021-2023

Decision 942, unfortunately, failed to detail other long-awaited factors such as the expected function and areas of use in the future. From our sole perspective, it is more likely that the government aims to introduce a CBDC (Central Bank Digital Currency) to enhance the cashless payments penetration in Vietnam. It is even more persuasive to observe that Vietnam is geographically surrounded by countries that are some of the most advanced in developing digital currencies, to name a few, China is in the late stages of piloting the digital yuan, Cambodia launched Project Bakong, which is widely described as a central bank digital currency system and Thailand is also exploring CBDC (or M-CBDC) for cross border payments.

The Prime Minister also requested other ministries to prioritize research on some core technologies in which Vietnam has an advantage and with which Vietnam can achieve breakthroughs such as artificial intelligence (AI), blockchains, virtual reality/augmented reality (VR/AR) and Big Data, facilitating deployment of advanced digital technologies in the e-Government. Those ministries must adopt order placement and task assignment mechanisms for digital technology enterprises that research on and develop new technological applications for the e-Government.

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