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Embracing Digital-Led Financial Ecosystems for A Better Lifestyle

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Bunthoeun Chhut

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By enabling convenient and secure transactions, digital financial ecosystems have significantly improved lifestyles, empowering people with greater financial freedom and control.

The rise of digital-led financial ecosystems has revolutionized the way people live, enabling swift and efficient transactions, expanding financial service access and empowering individuals by allowing them to take greater control of their finances.

Digital-led financial ecosystems – defined by the World Bank and the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) as financial services delivered and accessed via digital technologies – possess tremendous potential to enhance financial well-being and foster thriving communities in the digital age.

With the goal of promoting financial inclusion, supporting economic growth, and maintaining stability by offering affordable, secure, and user-friendly digital financial services to a broad customer base, these ecosystems encompass digital banking and mobile payments, and other innovations in fintech and supporting infrastructures.

The CEO of Wing Bank, Han Peng Kwang, noted that innovative digital financial solutions bring huge positive impacts for the way consumers navigate their lives in the digital age.

“I strongly believe in the digital banking transformation using technology to meet the needs of customers in an affordable, faster and efficient way. Key strategy for success is the relentless pursuit of great customer experiences at the core of the mission of the bank.”

“Through our robust ecosystems, we enable individuals to access financial services, make payments and engage in online commerce, ultimately enhancing their lifestyle,” he added. 

Transformation of banking services in Cambodia driven by digitization

In an exclusive interview with Cambodia Investment Review, Phal-Chalm Theany, Secretary General of the Cambodian Bankers Association, shed light on the transformation of banking services in Cambodia driven by digitization.

She emphasized, “Digitalisation encompasses self-banking via mobile and internet banking, and ATMs, all of which have enhanced the overall banking experience for customers. The operations are now faster, more convenient, and more secure thanks to automatic systems that reduce human errors. These advancements are not only cost-effective and time-efficient but also contribute to an environmentally friendly environment.”

Theany presented substantial evidence to highlight how digital financial services have led to significant changes in consumer behavior and financial habits. She remarked, “loans can now be processed, disbursed, and repaid via mobile banking. This shift towards digital has greatly reduced the cost of transactions – it’s down to less than a dollar from about US$20 per transaction before the digital era.”

“It has also enhanced financial awareness among consumers. People are taking a more active interest in their finances, tracking transactions, and understanding their financial habits better. This has resulted in a shift towards taking responsible loans to grow businesses and improve livelihoods,” she added.

As for the future of digital financial ecosystems in Cambodia, Theany forecasts an increasingly cashless society, with over 80% of total transactions now made digitally. She has noticed the integration of more sophisticated Artificial Intelligence (AI) as a critical part of this future.

“The coming future will see more and more AI that will be able to perform accurate analysis in different areas, such as assessing consumers’ repayment capacity and identifying their specific needs. These developments would contribute to improved living conditions and, on a larger scale, to GDP growth,” she predicted.

She also stressed the need for a robust ecosystem that accommodates these advancements, particularly in terms of security, convenience, and speed of operations. “Banks are aware of it and are collaborating with accredited, world-renowned partners towards this end,” she confirmed, signaling a promising future for the digital banking landscape in Cambodia.

The advent of digital-led financial ecosystems has ushered in a new era of convenience and efficiency

Gone are the days of standing in long queues at banks or waiting for cheques to clear – instead, with just a few taps on a smartphone or clicks on a computer, financial transactions can now be executed swiftly, seamlessly and securely.

Whether it is transferring funds, paying bills or making investments, these ecosystems have streamlined processes, saving precious time and effort for individuals in their daily lives.

Last year, the number of e-wallet accounts in Cambodia surged to 19.5 million, while the value of retail electronic payments made skyrocketed by 34% to around $270 billion. This transaction volume is almost 10 times the size of the Kingdom’s economy, according to the latest “Financial Stability Review” published by the National Bank of Cambodia (NBC).

Offered by banks, financial institutions and payment service providers, retail electronic payments include transactions – in both the Cambodian national currency, the riel, and the US dollar – made via e-wallets, internet banking, mobile banking and card payments. 

According to the NBC, the swift progress of payment and settlement systems is seen as a substantial contribution towards enhancing the efficiency, security and affordability of payment processes, with this development aligning with the government’s objective of promoting a digital economy and society.

Government-owned utility companies, such as Electricite du Cambodge and the Phnom Penh Water Supply Authority, have joined forces with local banks and financial institutions to offer digital bill payment solutions, eliminating the need for physical visits and queuing at counters, thus saving customers hours of queuing up time to pay their bills as in the past.

Speaking to the Cambodia Investment Review, Kakada Chhim, a representative from Phnom Penh Water Supply Authority (PPWSA), explained that the company is constantly striving to simplify bill payment for customers. In line with this effort, the company is in the process of developing its mobile app, which is expected to launch in the fourth quarter of 2023.

“Once operational, the app will further enhance customer experience by issuing digital water bills, making the process of managing and paying utility bills even smoother. This demonstrates PPWSA’s commitment to embracing digital transformation in its quest to improve its services,” she added.

In a move towards digitization, the General Department of Taxation has also partnered with various financial institutions to provide a wide range of e-tax services for tax payments.

Cambodia’s digital financial ecosystem on the rise

Cambodia’s digital landscape has undergone a remarkable transformation in the past decade, as digital products have swiftly replaced traditional offline models across multiple industries.

This shift has been largely fueled by the growing number of smartphone users who prioritize convenience, security and accessibility.

With nearly 21 million mobile connections – accounting for an astonishing 124% of the population – the demand for digital services continues to surge.

Banks and microfinance institutions (MFIs) are embracing digital platforms to provide convenient and secure services to individuals, small businesses and other entities.

In 2009, “the banking system in Cambodia consisted of 27 commercial banks, six specialized banks, three representative offices of foreign branches, 20 microfinance institutions (MFIs) and 26 registered microfinance institutions”, according to the annual report of the NBC.

And over the past decade, the Kingdom’s banking industry has significantly evolved towards digitization, with 37 licensed institutions offering internet banking and 33 providing mobile app services.

“The swift acceptance of digital financial services and mobile banking reflects the increasing desire for improved service quality and enhanced digital tools to effectively handle daily banking requirements of customers,” said Han Peng Kwang, the Wing Bank CEO.

Moreover, the fully digital opening of accounts and micro-loan applications are gaining significant traction in Cambodia.

Through the Wing Bank App, customers can now apply for instant loans of up to US$50,000 without the need for collateral, while the bank’s simplified application process with minimal documentation allows customers to receive their loans in minutes.

Tomas Pokorny, a Board Member of the Cambodia Association of Finance & Technology (CAFT), outlined several success stories to Cambodia Investment Review demonstrating how digital financial ecosystems have positively impacted individuals and communities in Cambodia.

He highlighted, “The increased focus on sustainability across SMEs and corporate communities is a notable outcome of digitalization. Fintech digitalization has shown SMEs and consumers that sustainability starts with small steps and changes in our daily lives, leading to significant changes across communities and nationwide.”

Addressing the challenges that CAFT faces in promoting digital financial services in Cambodia, Tomas shed light on the issue of superficiality. “CAFT was established in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic and has since brought digitalization awareness to another level,” he noted.

“However, there’s a growing number of networking events and discussions that, while beneficial in theory, often fail to lead to tangible goals.” Tomas lauded the actions of organizations like NBC for becoming more selective and goal-oriented in their initiatives. He expressed optimism that this trend will help replace superficial activities with impactful actions.

According to Google’s “e-Conomy SEA 2022” report, Southeast Asia’s internet economy is projected to reach $330 billion by 2025 – potentially hitting $600 billion to $1 trillion by 2030 – with e-commerce, financial services, online travel, transport and food, and online media driving the region’s digital growth.

And with its “Cambodia Digital Economy and Society Policy Framework 2021-2035” to foster economic growth and enhance social welfare in the post-pandemic era, the Kingdom is eagerly embracing digital transformation.

 


 

About Wing Bank (Cambodia) Plc

Wing Bank (Cambodia) Plc – the bank for every Cambodian – is driven by the vision to provide every Cambodian with convenient access to financial services relevant to, and for the improvement of, their daily lives.

Wing Bank has revolutionized the way Cambodians access financial services by introducing instant, secure, and convenient Mobile Financial Services since 18 August 2008.

Today, Wing Bank serves the entire Cambodian population with 100% coverage of the districts in Cambodia thanks to the innovative Wing Money App, more than 11,000 Wing Cash Xpress agents, over 150,000 merchants, and partnerships with industry giants such as Mastercard, MoneyGram, AliPay, WeChat Pay, Western Union, Visa, and Ria.

Wing Bank provides an array of advanced financial products both for individual and corporate customers. These include loans, deposits, micro savings, credit referral services, money transfers, utility and insurance payments, supply chain payments, payroll services and even phone top-ups. In addition, Wing Bank offers retail payments via “WingPay”, and also has introduce the “WingMall” e-commerce platform.

Both small and large companies alike are now using Wing’s payroll and disbursement services, speeding up payments. Over 80% of Wing’s agents and 50% of customers are women, making Wing a shining example of gender inclusion in the region.

Wing Bank is committed to providing financial, gender and digital inclusion to the unbanked and the under-banked, allowing every Cambodian to enjoy convenience and security when it comes to financial services.

References

A. Environmental Stewardship
To protect the environment, we organize programmes like mangrove nursery and Reforestation, Coastal and River Clean-Up, Community Based Environmental Solid Waste Management, Environmental IEC Campaign and Eco-Academy

B. Food Security and Sustainable Livelihood
To ensure a sustainable livelihood for the community, eco-tourism include Buhatan River Cruise Visitor Center Buhatan River Mangrove Boardwalk are run by the community. Others include Organic Vegetable and Root crops Farming, Vegetable and Root crops Chips and by-products Processing and establishing a Zero waste store.

C. Empowered Communities
To empower the community, we provide product and Agri-Enterprise Development Training, Immersion and Learnings Exchange Program, Earth Warrior Training and Community Based Social Entrepreneurship Training

Author

Bunthoeun Chhut

Senior Media Communication Specialist, Wing Bank (Cambodia) Plc.

Bunthoeun has served as a Senior Media Communication Specialist at Wing Bank (Cambodia) Plc, one of the country’s fastest-growing digital banks. Prior to joining Wing Bank, he made valuable contributions to both local media outlets and international news agencies based in Cambodia, accumulating over 8 years of experience in the journalism industry.

Throughout his career, Bunthoeun has held various key roles, including business reporter, correspondent, content creator, and content lead. His expertise spans diverse topics such as business, economics, banking and finance, real estate, and construction – showcasing a comprehensive understanding of Cambodia’s dynamic landscape.

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