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NBC: Financial sector basks in 41 years of rapid growth, development

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National Bank of Cambodia (NBC) governor Chea Chanto says the Kingdom’s financial sector has enjoyed rapid growth and development over the last 41 years. Hean Rangsey

NBC: Financial sector basks in 41 years of rapid growth, development

The national banking system has been continuously modernised in line with international financial standards and has played a key role in maintaining macroeconomic stability, supporting economic growth, promoting socio-economic inclusion and reducing poverty.

National Bank of Cambodia (NBC) governor Chea Chanto said this on Saturday at an event held at its headquarters which marked the 41st anniversary of the central bank’s re-establishment.

Over the last 41 years, the Kingdom’s financial sector has enjoyed rapid growth and development, he said.

“The banking system uses financial technology [fintech] in operations, especially for payments, which has steadily promoted Cambodian financial inclusion.

“In fact, the adult population that receives formal financial services has increased by more than 70 per cent compared to last two decades [to just under 10 per cent],” Chanto said.

Prasac Microfinance Institution Ltd (Prasac) executive vice-president Say Sony told The Post that his organisation has undergone a number of upgrades to catch up with the fintech advancement of the past few years and fill the unbanked gap in the Kingdom.

“Prasac is one of the active members joining in on all NBC initiatives to develop fintech solutions such as CSS, Fast, Bakong and Retail Pay.

“We’ve witnessed rapid development in the last few years for the most part, and are seeing most financial institutions put fintech at the top of their priorities as a result of the ongoing pandemic.

“This begins from the transition to new core banking and payment processing systems – from credit services to other banking services.

“Fintech has aided us a lot in decision-making and has improved the quality of our services. Our core banking system has enabled us to manage data from more than 340,000 borrowers and 600,000 depositors in real time so that we can make more effective decisions across our nationwide network of branches, ATMs, MIB [mobile and internet banking] and POS [point of sale] terminals,” he said.

Sony noted that since it burst onto the fintech scene around three years ago, Prasac’s ATMs have handled more than $580 million in seven million transactions, its MIB solutions have moved $74 million in 11 million transactions while POS terminals have enabled five million transactions to the tune of $768 million.

Cambodia Association of Finance and Technology (CAFT) CEO Pen Chanda told The Post that fintech is one of the fastest growing industries in the Kingdom and has made financial services and products more accessible and affordable to the masses.

He said digital access to these products and services has paved the way for greater financial inclusion of Cambodians.

“With the National Bank of Cambodia’s support of our payment service institutions, we are looking at a brighter future in which currently unbanked Cambodians are able to access financial services in a non-traditional way,” Chanda said.

The NBC’s Chanto noted that, over the last two decades, inflation rate in the Kingdom has remained low at around 2.5 per cent, while the riel has been stable at around 4,050 riel per US dollar.

Gross international reserves have increased to around $20 billion – providing 10 months of import cover, he said.

Banking assets have seen a 112-fold jump from just $0.5 billion in 1998 to $56 billion today, while domestic deposits and banking loans allocated to all economic sectors increased 165-fold from $0.2 billion to more than $33 billion during the period, he added.

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