- A Thai political party proposes distributing digital currency that must be spent within six months and only close to recipients’ homes.
- The concept resembles programmable Central Bank Digital Currencies (CBDCs).
Programmable Money: A Double-Edged Sword?
In an era where the possibilities of blockchain technology are expanding, the Pheu Thai Party in Thailand has a novel proposition: a state-backed digital currency with unique stipulations. This currency isn’t just digital; it’s programmable with certain conditions.
At the heart of their campaign promise is an intention to dispense digital currency equivalent to $280 (10,000 baht) to every Thai citizen above the age of 16. However, this isn’t an unrestricted gift. The digital funds come with two primary conditions:
- Recipients must expend the digital money within a span of six months.
- The spending of these funds is restricted to a geographical limit – a mere 4-kilometer radius from the user’s residence.
To the uninitiated, this proposal might seem unorthodox. The technology behind such a programmable currency is built upon the principles of CBDCs or Central Bank Digital Currencies. CBDCs leverage blockchain technology, which is a decentralized ledger of all transactions across a network. Through blockchain, the specific conditions – such as the expiry deadlines and geographical constraints – can be efficiently programmed into the currency.
In essence, while the digital currency provides citizens with additional funds, its design ensures that the money remains within local communities, possibly promoting regional economic growth. This initiative has been framed by the party as a two-pronged approach: not only does it aim to provide immediate economic stimulation, but it also seeks to lay a foundational stone for Thailand’s nascent digital economy.
Even those who don’t possess the necessary digital wallet application are not excluded. They can obtain their share of the 10,000 baht by simply providing their national ID. In return, they’d be granted a unique “personal code”, enabling them to participate in this digital endeavor.
This is not the first instance of the Pheu Thai Party harnessing this idea as a political tool. A similar proposal was brought forth prior to the elections in April, wherein the party secured the second position. Yet, with the party now re-illuminating their vision for a “programmable” digital currency, the future remains uncertain. Particularly given the Central Bank of Thailand’s current disapproval of this particular handout. Even though the bank is presently experimenting with CBDCs, the Pheu Thai Party’s vision seems to be a few steps ahead, for better or worse.