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NBC: Fintech fuels 2020 boom in Kingdom's payment systems

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A user pays for her in-store purchase through a mobile payment app. The Covid-19 pandemic has helped accelerate the adoption of digital payments in Cambodia. Photo supplied

NBC: Fintech fuels 2020 boom in Kingdom's payment systems

Payment systems in Cambodia have seen remarkable strides in line with the evolution of financial technology (fintech) and significantly contribute to the development of the national economy, as digital transactions witness a Covid-19 boom, the National Bank of Cambodia (NBC) said in the 2020 annual report on the payment system.

The central bank reported on May 11 that payment systems have offered substantial support for economic development by providing an efficient and secure financial infrastructure to facilitate transactions, as well as payments for trade in goods and services, and on financial markets.

"Payment systems provide a convenient, secure, fast and affordable way to transfer funds electronically among economic agents, and have contributed to a more efficient central bank monetary supply.

“Through this infrastructure, the central bank's payment system can implement open market operations, a key monetary policy tool to boost economic growth, and can quickly monitor the liquidity of banking and financial institutions as part of its contribution to guarantee financial stability as well.

"The payment system has also made a significant contribution to improving financial inclusivity by using financial technology in the development of new low-cost payment services and tools, increasing the number of possibilities, more broadly expanding the payment network, and allowing rural people to participate in payment services through official channels," the report said.

Officially launched by the NBC in October, the inter-bank mobile payment platform – known as the “Bakong System” – allows inter-bank and inter-microfinance-institute (MFI) payments.

In addition to the Cambodian Shared Switch (CSS) system, Retail Pay and Electronic Clearing System (ECS), the Bakong System promotes secure and effective electronic payments in the financial sector, reduces operating costs and boosts financial inclusion.

The report reveals that 21,363 transactions were made through the Fast Payment system in the first half of 2020, up 373.68 per cent year-on-year.

In January-June last year, 625,476 check transaction were executed, a decrease of 5.92 per cent year-on-year, and 144,464 credit transfers were made, an increase of 25.47 per cent year-on-year, it said.

Prasac Microfinance Institution Ltd (Prasac) senior vice-president Say Sony told The Post that his MFI's clients can now use Prasac Mobile and Internet banking to perform cashless transactions on a daily basis, such as money transfers, bill payments and loan repayments.

Branches and ATMs are still available across the country for cash transactions, he said.

"In addition, we are also a member of the [NBC-backed] Bakong service, Retail Pay and CSS systems, so customers can make bank transactions or inter-bank transactions with more than 20 other financial institutions and banks," Sony said.

According to the NBC's annual report, total assets in Cambodia's banks and MFIs reached $59.4 billion at the end of last year, up 15.7 per cent year-on-year from the end of 2019.

Loans in banks and MFIs rose 14.8 per cent to $37.3 billion as of the end of last year, while deposits rose 15.4 per cent to $33.8 billion.

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