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National Bank to Launch Financial Literacy Campaign

Sok Chan / Khmer Times Share:
A woman displays cash at a money exchange shop on Street 63 in Phnom Penh. KT/ Fabien Mouret

A campaign will be launched country-wide to educate the public about how to properly use financial services, a forum on microfinance in Phnom Penh was told yesterday.
Microfinance institutions in Cambodia have seen a remarkable and rapid growth over time, a senior officer from the National Bank of Cambodia said.
Neav Chanthana, a deputy governor of the NBC, said that in December 2015, microfinance institutions were operating in 3,306 districts, 21,337 communes and 124,901 villages and the number of depositors had increased to approximately 1.3 million. Deposits totaled 5 trillion riel ($1.3 billion) and the total number of borrowers had reached 2.5 million, with outstanding loans of 12 trillion riel ($3 billion).
Ms. Chanthana said the growing financial sector as a whole, of which MFIs are a part, still faces some challenges such as consumer protection, an overload of debt management, new products on the market which are confusing consumers and difficulties for the rural poor to access financial services. “After seeing these issues, the NBC has arranged a campaign to raise awareness of the financial sector with Australian NGO Good Return. It will be called, “Let’s talk about money.”
“The purpose of this campaign is to change financial attitudes and strengthen the right of families and communities by using financial services for low income earners and understanding the risks,” she added. The campaign, she said, will push young adults to discuss money matters with their family and friends to help them make better decisions on spending and managing finances in the future. Ms. Chanthana said the campaign will run for 12 weeks using leaflets and social media.
“The main message of this campaign is to raise awareness for young adults to understand how to choose and use financial products by learning how to bargain to get the best financial services for their needs and to build good relationships with financial services providers,” Ms. Chanthana said.  
She added that for existing loans and savings products, MFIs have introduced more innovations such as mobile money transfers, micro-insurance and ATMs. Also, microfinance has been an important source of promoting the use of the riel. “These remarkable developments in MFIs would not have been achieved without the joint efforts and collaborations between the NBC and connected authorities, the private sector, local and international development partners and certainly not without continuous support from the government of Cambodia,” Ms. Chanthana said.
“The NBC strongly supports the Financial Sector Development Strategy of the government in which financial inclusion has been prioritized to extend financial services to the people from all walks of life, corresponding to the needs and conditions of individuals and SMEs, and contributing to poverty alleviation, income generation, job creation and closing the income gap,” she said.
Ms. Chanthana added that the NBC has been implementing various initiatives in support of the government’s strategy on financial inclusion, and there were some key developments in this area such as prudential regulation and supervision, consumer protection, credit information sharing systems and more.
Bun Mony, a former president of the Cambodia Microfinance Institution, told the forum that at present there are 48 microfinance institutions which have been granted licenses by the NBC and eight of those could receive deposits. He added that there are 2 million families accessing microfinance, while the number of depositors stand at 1.4 million.    
“For the last 10 years, the capital for MFIs has been $89 million in Cambodia as a whole, but now the capital of MFIs is worth $3 billion and this is the fastest growing with about a 30-fold increase,” he said. “Microfinance plays an important role for poverty reduction and we want our people’s living standards to get better.”

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