Technology adoption trends will keep driving forward, boosting productivity, cutting unnecessary costs, correcting drawbacks in the financial system, and delivering a host of other economic benefits, according to National Bank of Cambodia assistant governor Chea Serey on November 24.

Serey was delivering her opening remarks at the 9th Annual Macroeconomic Conference, organised by the NBC and the UN Development Programme in Cambodia, and themed “Towards a Post Covid-19 Recovery and Resilience”.

With minimal health risks associated with the Covid-19 coronavirus remaining, economic activity in key sectors is steadily recovering, she said, suggesting that more targeted recovery plans and related policies geared towards accelerating economic growth be studied and discussed in-depth.

Serey drew attention to “digitalisation” as a major contributor to economic growth and a top priority for Cambodia. “We have seen a drastic change in the way our society works, shifting from in-person to online activities in many aspects, including business, work and education,” she said.

“To recover inclusively and sustainably in the aftermath of Covid-19 requires addressing not only the scarring effects of the pandemic, but also the new emerging challenges, in particular, higher inflation, global economic slowdown and climate change.

“The trend of digitisation and technology adoption is irreversible which would bring a lot of benefits to the country in terms of boosting productivity, and thus reducing costs which is particularly important in the period of increasing inflation like we have been experiencing this year.

“In this sense, I would like to highlight that the modernisation of the banking system over the years, especially the payment system, contributed to sustaining small business activities amid the pandemic and prevented the spread of Covid-19 by minimising human interactions, reducing unnecessary travel, and keeping commercial places less crowded, while formal financial inclusion in rural areas has been promoted.

“However, there are also negative effects of digitalisation that we cannot ignore. One of that is the digital divide. When digitalisation can provide people in distant areas with several economic and financial services, which might be not accessible otherwise, digitalisation requires affordable access to devices and internet, or else some groups of people, particular in rural areas, will not benefit from digitalisation, and social inequality may increase,” she added.

Speaking to The Post on November 24, Royal Academy of Cambodia (RAC) economics researcher Ky Sereyvath commented that Covid-19 accelerated technology usage in the Kingdom, which has boosted economic growth.

“The deployment of digital systems also allows the government to manage cash flows more easily and clearly. It also makes it easier for the NBC to set the right financial policies and promote the use of the riel,” he said.