National Bank of Cambodia (NBC) director-general Chea Serey’s efforts towards the digitalisation of the financial industry and greater inclusion into the burgeoning sector have been honoured with a “Future of Payments Award”.
She received the prize – reserved for “game changers of the payments industry” – at the Singapore Fintech Festival on December 8, which was hosted by the Budapest Institute of Banking (BIB) and the London-based Centre for Finance, Technology and Entrepreneurship (CFTE).
Speaking at the awards ceremony, BIB CEO Gergely Fabian said Serey has fast-tracked the Kingdom’s digital transformation through her guidance in the development of the blockchain-driven Bakong system.
“The NBC’s initiative seeks out the newer generation and introduces them to a better system that uses blockchain technology. Under that innovative policy, the inter-bank market may be developed and the use of local currency can be encouraged,” he said.
Serey expressed her gratitude for her “incredible team” at the NBC. “Without them my ideas would just be ideas.
“To the girls and women of small developing countries like mine, anything is possible when you set your heart on it regardless of your gender or where you come from,” she said.
On October 28, the NBC officially launched Bakong, which, according to Serey, would enable interoperability between banks and financial institutions that is safe, efficient and cost-effective, give a powerful impetus to rural financial sector development and nurture financial inclusivity.
Speaking at the launch, Serey said Bakong would provide seamless, cashless e-payments to help promote social welfare and prevent the spread of Covid-19.
“Online payments can also be made through the Bakong system, which also offers alternative options for . . . transactions such as deposits, withdrawals, sending and receiving [via] e-wallet,” Serey said then.
Shin Chang-moo, the president of South Korean-owned Phnom Penh Commercial Bank Plc (PPCBank), agreed that Serey deserved the award, pointing out that Bakong had put Cambodia in the spotlight of the global financial scene.
He said the NBC is recognised as one of the most innovative regulators for its progressive efforts to build and nurture financial infrastructures for fostering financial inclusion.
“Personally, I believe NBC achieved in less than five years what [South] Korea took 20 years to achieve, a good example of leapfrogging in financial system. As one of the private financial sector players, I am so proud of her award,” Shin said.