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Cambodia and the banking sector: Q&A with BRED Bank

Sok Chan / Khmer Times No Comments Share:
Guillaume Perdon (right), CEO of BRED Banque Populaire and Sopha Min, deputy CEO. KT/Mai Vireak

BRED Bank (Cambodia) Plc., a subsidiary of the well-established French bank BRED Banque Populaire, recently celebrated its first year anniversary in the kingdom. Khmer Times’ Sok Chan sits down with Guillaume Perdon, CEO, and Sopha Min, deputy CEO, to discuss the bank’s achievements and goals.

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KT: What have been the biggest achievements for your institution after one year of operations in the kingdom?

Mr Perdon: After one year, our achievements are very promising. We opened in March 2017, offering a full range of products and services for all types of customers. Today, we have individual consumers, premium accounts, small and medium-sized enterprises and large corporations doing business with us.

What is also promising, of course, is that we continue to grow our customer portfolio. Today, we have more than 1,000 clients in total, with 150 key corporate customers among them. Our total loan portfolio after one year of operations is about $75 million.

We can say we had a very fast and efficient start and now we want to develop our network of branch offices, as most of our operations to date have taken place in our headquarters in Phnom Penh.

KT: You said there are 150 businesses cooperating with BRED Bank; what sort of market segmentation strategy do you follow?

Mr Perdon: To put it simply, we are a bank for everyone and we opened in Cambodia to support communities and the local economy. Our customers belong to a wide range of sectors, including agriculture, import-export operations and manufacturing. And, of course, we are also looking at the tourism sector: we are working with travel agents, hotels and restaurants.

KT: What are some of your most successful products to date?

Mr Min: Reflecting on this past year, I would say one of our strongest selling points is our opening hours: We are proud to be the first bank to open seven days a week for 12 hours a day, from 8am to 8pm.

We have a full range of products to support individual customers, whether they want to buy a new car or a new house, or use their VISA cards overseas.

For our corporate customers, we offer services to support their expansion and investments in fix assets.

From day one, we offered internet banking and mobile apps to support retail and business banking anywhere and anytime. We are one of the few banks to offer this service in the market today.

Moreover, we have 10 ATMs now, and plan to expand to 50 within two years. Every month, we build new ones in locations that are convenient for our customers. Most of them are now in Phnom Penh, but we plan to reach Siem Reap, Battambang, and Sihanoukville before the end of this year. At the same time, we are planning to build a network of branch offices outside the capital.

KT: How would you describe the banking sector in the kingdom?

Mr Perdon: The banking sector in Cambodia is very competitive, with more than 50 active players. There are a variety of banks: local, regional and international, and also microfinance organisations. Our competitors are very diverse.

After one year of operations, we differentiate ourselves in the market with the quality of our services. Likewise, our decision-making process to approve loans for SMEs and individuals is the fastest in the country and we are committed to meet customers’ needs the best way we can.

KT: What’s your contribution to the development of the nation?

Mr Perdon: We contribute to the Cambodian economy through our strong business ties with Europe. We are the only European bank in Cambodia, which makes us faster and more efficient when it comes to connecting local companies and European corporations to enable business activity. Today, 80 percent of our portfolio is based on financing local companies and people.

KT: Tell us about your goals and plans for 2018

Mr Min: This year we will open more branches in Phnom Penh and in the provinces. By the end of the year, we plan to have five branches, two in Phnom Penh and three in the provinces. We can already announce that we will open one in Siem Reap in May.

We will expand our offer of digital solutions for end-users and businesses. We also plan to offer non-financial services to support our customers. By end of this year, we hope to be training and coaching some of our customers on accounting, management control systems, finance and marketing strategies.

Mr Perdon: Our vision of banking is based on a long-term win-win relationship between client and bank. For us, developing trust is very important; the trust of our customers, regulators, communities and staff is paramount. We are new to this market, but we are committed to supporting every stakeholders, developing the services and products required by the market, and building a more professional and capable labour force.

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