Sathapana Bank Plc is one of the leading commercial banks in Cambodia with 168 branches, more than 4,200 employees, and 100 ATMs with a wide range of products and services.
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Mr. Kato Norihiko, Chief Executive Officer of Sathapana Bank, has shared with us the new refreshing look of Sathapana Bank and the commitment to serve Cambodians better through innovative commercial banking products and services throughout the country; while the bank’s contributions to economic development and environment and social sustainability should go hand in hand.
KT: Recently, Sathapana has changed its logo, could you briefly tell us what the new logo means to your bank?
Mr. Kato: Our new logo concept represents solidity, growth, reliability, transparency, and innovation.
Our motif is Mount Fuji, a widely recognized symbol of Japan as a source of solidity, and harmony. The Hexagon rim of the Crest represents the honeycomb structure of a beehive, nature’s ideal storage of valuable assets. Its strength is re-enforced when multiple hexagons are placed next to one another, depicting the bank’s ability to service to its customers through its vast nationwide branch network. The Crest also represents vault or a safety deposit box and the five shades of blue are the reflections of the blue sky on window adorning the modern skyscraper, a sign of modernity and progress,
KT: Sathapana Bank Plc., was formed by a merger between Sathapana limited and MARUHAN Japan Bank Plc in April, 2016. It is now more than a year of the merger, could you tell us how your business performance is like?
Mr. Kato: In April 1, 2016, we merged, and I took over the CEO position in December 2016. Since then we have been working very hard to transform Sathapana as the commercial bank upon its merger until this year. Of course, the merger is not an easy process sometimes. Actually, the business result in 2016 was modest taking into account the merger transition, and now we are more positive to improve and develop as a commercial bank.
KT: What is your market segmentation?
Mr. Kato: Obviously, Sathapana’s major support is coming from microfinance targeted areas, so Sathapana will continue to be nice throughout the country and even towards the lower income people. Although this sector is not really an efficient sector for the bank to make profit, but there are only a few banks which can provide nationwide products and services. So, this is our bank’s franchise value, it is a bit of a challenge but we are committed to serve this market segment.
Secondly, through the rapid economic development, a new market is emerging, medium-upper class groups mainly in the city, who need more commercial banking products and services. In regards to profit and technology, this is the segment we should be focusing on more.
KT: As you mentioned, Sathapana is currently the second top commercial bank in Cambodia in term of number of branches and staff, what is your commitment towards being a transparent, safe and trustful bank for customers?
Mr. Kato: Yes, our shareholders and management are very committed and our aspiration is to be the top one in this country, so being one of the top banks in one country is very significant and a responsible thing. We want to establish a solid transparent organization, fairness, with a good corporate governance. It is a long term commitment, and we will not hesitate to make necessary investments to provide a bigger positive impact to Cambodia’s economics and its people.
KT: To your point of view, what do you think about the financial industry in Cambodia?
Mr. Kato: The economy is growing rapidly so far but we still have challenges to make inclusive and sustainable economic development. The financial sector is really important in supporting the growth of this economy, but still relatively weak in capital and financial techniques. So, we need to work hard on the efficiency and service standard so that Cambodian people can enjoy financial products and services more with good access and at reasonable cost.
KT: Recently, the National Bank of Cambodia has announced that three financial institutions have cooperated with the central bank to launch the Cambodian Share Switch (CSS), Sathapana is one of them. How does this system benefit your customers and Cambodian people?
Mr. Kato: CSS or Cambodian Share Switch system which is an initiative by NBC and currently on board is Sathapana Bank and two other financial institutions, who are working together to make it possible. That means each bank’s customers can use the other bank’s ATMs that will provide more convenient services to each bank’s customers.
KT: What is your outlook for your bank’s growth by the end of this year and what is your next plan?
Mr. Kato: We are growing in an emerging country, and banking services are still reaching up to maybe 25 to 30 percent of the population. That means we still have substantial number of population who don’t have access to banking services, so the country’s real economic growth is around 6.8 to 7 percent and in addition untapped markets are still large, so by bank effort, they can grow two times or three times faster than the GDP growth. This year I predict our bank loan growth will be more than 20 percent.
Currently, we don’t have mobile banking, so we will introduce the cutting edge mobile banking which is the latest, strong and most secured technology. We will provide this full advantage and bring much more convenient services to our customers.
KT: What is your future plan?
Mr. Kato: Sathapana used to be very solid and one of the strong microfinance institutions before. Starting from here, we want to maximize the use of latest technology and continue to expand our branch and ATM networks. We would like to have a positive and good, healthy competition with other banks so that Cambodian people can enjoy the services more. I think the utilizing latest technology is one of the keys which all banks have to work on to be competitive in the future.