Thailand Government Postpones $16B ‘Digital Wallet’ Initiative, Aims to Modify Scheme
The “Digital Wallet” scheme to distribute Bt10,000 in digital money, as a one-time benefit to all Thais aged 16 and over, has been delayed.
Thailand’s ambitious “Digital Wallet” scheme, aimed at distributing digital currency to its citizens, is facing delays and adjustments.
According to a recent announcement by Pichai Chunhavajira, an advisor to Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin, the disbursement of Bt10,000 in digital money, originally planned as a one-time benefit to all Thais aged 16 and over, may not take place until September of the following year.
During a forum discussing the “Various Opinions on the Digital Wallet Scheme,” Pichai revealed that the original concept of offering the Bt10,000 benefit to all eligible citizens needs revision.
There are discussions about excluding “high-income earners” from the scheme to ensure the program effectively stimulates the economy, he added.
This adjustment is a significant departure from the initial plan, reflecting the government’s commitment to ensuring the program’s economic impact.
Scrapping The Use of Blockchain Technology
One of the most striking developments is the potential abandonment of blockchain technology for money distribution.
The initial plan had considered developing a new application using blockchain technology, but concerns have arisen regarding the high costs and time requirements associated with such an approach.
Instead, the government is contemplating using the “pao tang” application, which was previously employed during the COVID-19 pandemic for financial assistance.
Additional Factors Behind The Move
These recent developments come in the wake of earlier news indicating the deferral of the “Digital Wallet” initiative to early 2024. The government’s decision to prioritize security and safeguarding both funds and user data due to the constant threat of cyber-attacks on digital transactions was a significant factor behind the delay.
The original plan by Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin was to revive consumer spending and provide a substantial boost to the Thai economy.
With hopes of achieving 5% economic growth in the following year, the government expected increased economic activity to raise tax revenues, which would serve as a source of funding for the initiative.
However, the initial approach faced diverse opinions and criticisms. Some experts advocated for a more targeted rollout, suggesting “e-wallets” for specific groups in genuine need of support, while others, like former senator Rosana Rositrakul, expressed concerns about potential economic repercussions and the nation’s existing economic challenges and public debt.
Thailand’s aspiration to harness digital currency for economic rejuvenation remains clear, but the path towards its realization has proven to be fraught with complexities and challenges.
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