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Cambodian fintech innovation on show at regional expo conference

Gerald Flynn / Khmer Times Share:
In Channy, president and group CEO of Acleda. Khmer Times

Senior bankers from across the region will descend on Phnom Penh for the 22nd Asean Banking Conference this November, where innovative new models and technologies from the Kingdom’s financial sector will be on display.

Esteemed speakers from Cambodia and the region will highlight technological developments that aim to further develop Asean’s financial sectors and take another step on the path to the future of banking.

In Channy, chairman of the Association of Banks in Cambodia, expresses pride at the advances made by the Kingdom’s banking sector and says he is excited to see how the rest of the region has progressed.

“I am especially proud as the banking sector has made such immense progress in Cambodia in the last few years, especially with the rolling out of new technology which is putting formal financial services in the hands of all Cambodians anytime, anywhere.

“Along with the National Bank of Cambodia (NBC), we at the association are focused on using technology both to bring our citizens into the formal financial sector and also to increase the usage of our sovereign currency, the Khmer Riel, for all transactions, big and small,” he says.

These gains have been pushed further through highly-progressive innovations coming out of both the private and public sectors in Cambodia. NBC’s regulation on digital payment services and its adoption of internationally recognised frameworks to tackle hot-button issues like money-laundering and fraud have both been praised as ground-breaking in their efforts to modernise Cambodia.

Matthew Tippetts is CEO and co-founder of Clik, a digital payments aggregator that hopes to launch their services next year. Despite the aggregator not being fully functional yet, Mr Tippetts and his team have hit the ground running, picking up the award for ‘Best AI and Machine Learning Start-up’ at the Asean Rice Bowl Start-up Awards last week.

Mr Tippetts admires the work of NBC and sees Cambodia’s banking sector as the key driving force behind a lot of innovation in the Kingdom.

“From the angle of penetration where, obviously, we are at the bottom end of the scale when it comes to percentage of digital payments as a whole, because Singapore has a much higher percentage, certain other countries like the Philippines has a very high percentage of wallet payments,” he says, noting that approximately 90 percent of Cambodia’s digital payments are made through traditional means, like debit and credit cards.

But he does not necessarily see the Kingdom at a disadvantage.

“What is happening for sure is that banks are effectively upgrading their capabilities and instead of offering ATM cards, which only work in that network and is basically used just to take money out of ATMs, now they’re giving out debit cards from international payment schemes,” he explains.

This, he argues, will drive digital payments faster in Cambodia than Asean countries such as Singapore on account of the low banking penetration here. It is these revelations and regional examples that will dominate the Asean Banking Conference in November.

The conference, co-hosted by the Association of Banks in Cambodia and the Asean Bankers Association (ABA), will feature a keynote speech from Chea Chanto, governor of the National Bank of Cambodia, and plenty of breakout panels and networking events centred on themes of technology and innovation in the banking sector.

This will be running alongside a banking expo where all products and services of participating banks will be on show to further inspire innovation.

“We think our colleagues from across Asean will have a lot to learn about the way Cambodian banks are using technology, some of it home-grown, to offer more products and services to their growing customer base and to improve their operational efficiency, security, transparency, and profitability,” Mr Channy added.

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