KBC is the first financial institution in Europe to roll out its own digital coin based on blockchain technology, the Kate Coin.
The launch of the e-money token comes a year and a half after the Belgian bank's launch of Kate, a personal digital assistant for mobile and online banking.
Customers will be able to acquire Kate Coins and effectively use them via their Kate Coin wallet in KBC Mobile in a 'closed loop' environment, outside of which the coin has no monetary value. Kate Coin is fully collateralised by KBC and pegged to the euro on a 1:1 basis, at a rate of 1 euro per Kate Coin.
Johan Thijs, CEO KBC Group, comments: "A completely new economy is currently developing on the basis of new technology such as web 3.0, cryptocurrencies, NFTs. With the Kate Coin, we are entering this new world. This is how we are preparing KBC for the future."
This weekend, Werchter Boutique will be the scene of the first large-scale test of the Kate Coin, where 8,000 KBC employees present at the festival will be able to pay for snacks and drinks with the token.
A first limited test in the past few weeks with 200 KBC employees was already successful. With the larger-scale test at Werchter Boutique, KBC wants to check whether the permission-based KBC blockchain platform can also process a large number of small transactions within a relatively limited timeframe.
The bank is further investigating ways to open up the coin to third party applications on its mobile ecosystem, enabling the transfer of goods and services to its 1.8 million users underpinned by the digital token. In this scenario, the bank is contemplating a contractual relationship which would enable customers to purchase goods at a discount using Kate coins.
Erik Luts, chief innovation officer KBC, explains further: "The blockchain technology used by KBC ensures that the Kate Coin is fully programmable. KBC may attach specific conditions to both the acquisition and use of the Kate Coin. This allows for flexibility in, for example, the number of coins in exchange for a specific service, the scope of an acquired coin, or the period in which it can be used for this purpose. The customer can acquire Kate Coins in function of a certain loyalty, at a certain product purchase, if he performs certain actions ... and can use these KBC Coins again, e.g. for a discount on another KBC product."
Luts offers a possible scenario: "Customers earn Kate Coins when they undertake sustainable actions, such as taking out a loan for an electric bike. They can then use the earned Kate Coins for other initiatives, such as investing in a socially responsible investment fund. KBC can also increase the value of those coins (temporarily or otherwise) when they are used for a sustainable purpose. Kate, the personal digital assistant, can proactively inform the customer for which sustainable solutions he can use the earned Kate Coins."