The central bank emphasised that the rapid development of digital technology and innovation, particularly in financial technology (fintech) systems, presents various digital-related risks to society.

The situation necessitates collaboration among all relevant stakeholders to jointly work towards building Cambodia into a country that is safe for innovative development.

Chea Serey, governor of the National Bank of Cambodia (NBC), acknowledged the acceleration of technological adoption in various sectors at the 2023 CamTech Summit. The November 30 forum was held under the theme, “Forging Partnerships: Fostering Collaboration and Innovation for Digital Financial Services in Mekong and Beyond”.

Serey stressed the challenges that need addressing for the country to fully benefit from technological advancements. She pointed out that limited awareness of digital literacy among individuals and businesses could be a significant barrier to promoting fintech use and exposing them to related risks. 

“This emphasises the importance of digital literacy, which is a new area that all stakeholders need to consider,” she stated.

As fintech rapidly evolves, new and complex risks like cybersecurity have emerged. Serey highlighted the need for more responsive regulation to keep pace with these developments. 

“Enhancing the legal framework to address cybersecurity, data privacy and protection is crucial to building trust in digitisation,” she added.

She expressed confidence that the summit would serve as an integrated platform for policymakers, regulators, businesses and technology players from various sectors. 

The forum aims to discuss technological developments in the country and globally: their importance, opportunities and challenges in shaping the country’s economy in the digital era, especially in the path to post-pandemic recovery.

“This will promote awareness, coordination, exchange of views, knowledge and experience among stakeholders. It will enable policymakers and regulators to design better … regulations to cope with fast-evolving technology and prepare Cambodia for the transition to a digital economy and its progression from a middle-income to an upper-middle-income country,” she added.

Remi Pell, chairman of the Cambodia Association of Finance and Technology (CAFT), noted that the summit is crucial for encouraging members to advance their shared agenda. He highlighted that the pandemic’s push towards digitisation made it clear that the future would be technology-driven.

“Now, this can be extremely advantageous, but it also presents major challenges. We must incorporate knowledge quickly, stay updated on new tech businesses and releases, navigate complex technologies, acquire skills to master tech features and balance digital innovation with responsibility,” he said.

He said that to meet these challenges, CAFT developed CamTech, a platform combining collaboration, advocacy, facilitation and learning, aiming to spur digital innovation and partnerships. 

“The goal is to promote digital transformation under a [coordinated] network, involving many of the most notable names in the global and regional ecosystems,” he explained.

According to Serey, as a facilitator in the payment system the central bank has embraced recent technologies in the name of modernisation. This includes the introduction of several mechanisms such as the National Clearing System (NCS), the Online Banking System (OBS), the NBC Platform (NBCP), the Cambodian Shared Switch (CSS), Fast Payment and most recently Bakong – the backbone of the payment network. 

Bakong aims to address interoperability, efficiency, financial inclusion and ease of use for the Cambodian riel (KHR). Since its introduction in October 2020, 71 Institutions have become members, with 52 already operational, reaching over 10 million customers and processing a total of 63 million transactions.

“Alongside infrastructure development, the NBC is undertaking the cross-border QR code payment project with partner countries in the region,” she added.