National Bank of Cambodia deputy governor Chea Serey clarified on July 16 that a recent memorandum of understanding with China’s UnionPay was not an agreement to legalise the Chinese yuan in the Kingdom or the Cambodian riel in China. Rather, it permits mobile payments using QR-codes.

Serey took to social media to clear up the misunderstanding, following online speculation that the MoU meant the yuan could be used as legal tender in Cambodia.

“Many are concerned that the Chinese currency might flood our country. We appreciate these worries and urge our citizens to strengthen our Khmer riel by saving and spending in our nation’s currency,” he urged.

The deputy governor added that the MoU was designed to simplify transactions for Chinese tourists in Cambodia, using a mobile app and KHQR scans for local products.

She explained that the Chinese tourists’ savings account can be converted into riel, enabling them to make purchases in Cambodia, as US dollars are not commonly spent in China.

The system is voluntary for Chinese tourists, and if they do not want to use the app, they might decide not to buy Cambodian products without US dollars. It also encouraged Cambodian vendors to accept riel.

Cambodians travelling to China can also use the app to spend their money in yuan, provided they have a Khmer riel savings account.

“These mechanisms are aimed at promoting Khmer riel and the prestige of our currency, thereby elevating our country’s profile in the international electronic payment system,” she said.

Chea Serey (centre), Deputy Governor of the National Bank of Cambodia witnessed at the signing of an agreement on QR code payment with UnionPay International on July 10. Heng Chivoan