The National Bank of Cambodia (NBC) urged financial institutions across the Kingdom to increase the share of local currency in their loan portfolios to at least 10 per cent by the end of this year.
During its 48th Monetary Policy Committee meeting last week, the NBC reminded commercial lenders to comply with the new requirement.
In December 2016, the NBC issued a prakas instructing all banks and MFIs to hold a minimum 10 per cent of their loan portfolio in riel.
The NBC has given commercial lenders until the end of this year to comply.
Kea Borann, AMK (Angkor Mikroheranhvatho Kampuchea) Microfinance Institution Plc CEO, said local currency accounts for 70 per cent of its total loan portfolios.
Borann, who is also a member of the Cambodia Microfinance Association (CMA) Board of Directors, said: “[Given that] most of our clients are rural farmers and our loans are mostly micro, many of our borrowers need riel for their transactions,” he said.
He added that “around 30 per cent of all MFIs in the Kingdom” would find it difficult to adhere to the NBC’s new requirement, saying those institutions “do not have a lot of operations in the countryside where the riel dominates”.
However, he said: “It’s not a big obstacle because the NBC has provided so much facilitation to ensure the success of the policy.
“I think, eventually, more and more microfinance institutions will succeed in meeting the standard set by the NBC.”
Bun Mony, chairman of Vithey Microfinance Institution, said currently many banks are struggling to lend riel to people even with a lower interest rate.
“I strongly support lending in riel because it will promote the use of the currency,” he said, adding that local currency acoounts for more than 10 per cent of the banks loan portfolios.
President and Group Managing Director of Acleda Bank Plc., In Channy, said riel accounts for 12.5 per cent of its total loan portfolios.
“For Acleda, increasing our share of lending in the local currency is not difficult because the bank serves customers from urban and rural areas,” he said.
Bun Yin, CEO of CIMB Bank Plc, was optimistic that it would meet the NBC’s requirement by the end of this year.
“The share of local currency in CIMB’s loan portfolios has reached seven per cent so far,” he said.
In November last year, Phillip Bank’s general manager Han Peng Kwang said the majority of borrowers in Phnom Penh still prefer to apply for loans in US dollars rather than riel, though some have become more receptive to borrow a portion of their loan in riel.