The National Bank of Cambodia (NBC) officially launched the KHQR system, following a pilot run, to facilitate cross-bank payments and encouraged businesses and consumers to take advantage of this achievement to drive financial technology innovations in the banking and finance sector.
KHQR is a universal quick response (QR) code system created for retail payments in the Kingdom and cross-border payments within the ASEAN bloc, according to the central bank.
Speaking at the inauguration ceremony of KHQR on July 4, NBC assistant governor and director-general Chea Serey reflected on the emergence of new QR code-powered payment methods on the market.
She said QR code solutions have grown rapidly amid Covid-19, gaining popularity especially among young people who are able to adapt to new technologies, seeing that they are fast, easy and safe.
Serey said QR code payments have also helped to improve the financial environment in line with the National Strategy on Financial Environment 2019-2025 and the approaches outlined in the Cambodia Digital Economy and Society Policy Framework 2021-2035.
Although QR code payments greatly support and facilitate digital payment transactions, there have been significant challenges.
“To address these challenges, the NBC collaborated with the Association of Banks in Cambodia [ABC] and other stakeholders on June 26, 2020, to prepare and launch a prakas on the use of KHQR codes.
“This would provide the basis for the preparation of KHQR codes for domestic payments to be orderly and secure, and facilitate cross-bank transactions using KHQR codes across financial institutions for customers while enabling Cambodia to integrate with regional payment systems,” Serey said.
Sok Voeun, ABC board member and chairman of the Microfinance Association of Cambodia, said the KHQR system has contributed significantly to the development and modernisation of payment systems in Cambodia to facilitate payments.
According to an NBC report, 37 banking and financial institutions who are members of the NBC’s Bakong payment app, participated in the development of KHQR.
Of those, 29 institutions successfully launched a trial run for the KHQR payment for goods with 230,000 merchant stores across the country.
“In recent years, we have seen a significant increase in digital payments, especially through the Bakong system. To continue contributing to the development and modernisation of payment systems in Cambodia, especially in the facilitation of payments for the public, I would like to encourage banking and financial institutions that have not yet added KHQR functionality to integrate it into their QR code systems,” he said.
In its 2021 Financial Stability Review, the NBC noted that electronic payment transactions worth 415.5 trillion riel ($102 billion) were made nationwide last year.
This marked an increase of 34.5 per cent year-on-year, as the number of e-wallet accounts reached 13.6 million, representing more than 80 per cent of the total population.