Wing, a growing Cambodian mobile payment and money transfer company, had a better-than-expected 2013.
In May, Wing’s CEO Anthony Perkins estimated that the company would reach transaction volumes totaling $1 billion by the end of the year, including domestic remittances, mobile phone top ups, bills and payroll disbursements.
But an increase in domestic remittances – transferring money to someone inside the country for a small fee via mobile phone or by visiting one of the company’s Wing Cash Xpress outlets – drove transaction volumes to $1.5 billion last year. At least $1 billion of the total came from remittances.
“That, far and away is our biggest and most successful product. It has taken off,” he said, adding that while mobile money transfer technology is the future, face-to-face banking is still the most favoured means of transferring funds in Cambodia.
In December alone, Wing’s product usage increased four-fold when compared to the same month of 2012, reaching $240 million.
Transaction volumes only account for the amount of money used in the company’s various exchanges. Perkins said the company was profitable before taxes in 2013, and that 2014 “will undoubtedly be net profit positive for the year with a great starting position and at the current rate of growth.”
The company’s mobile phone top-up service, however, continues to struggle against traditional scratch cards, attracting about $4 million, or 10 per cent, of the total market every month. Perkins said the point of sale service, which issues a printed paper receipt for phone credit, sometimes fails to attract shop owners who would rather just hawk the scratch cards, since telecommunications companies offer higher commissions for the sales.
Still, Wing plans to boost its total number of mobile top-up vendors from 6,000 to 10,000 by the end of 2014, and increase the number of Wing Cash Xpress outlets from 1,000 to 2,000 in a bid to achieve 100 per cent district coverage nationwide.
Teang Vannaroth is one of Wing’s many street vendors. She opened her small stand in Phnom Penh’s Chamkarmon district, outside a local market, about a year ago.
“Over the first couple of months, I only had a few clients. Gladly, now it is increasing,” she said, adding that about 100 people use Wing products on an average day. “Most clients, especially those who moved from the country to Phnom Penh to work, come here to send money to their parents, relatives or friends back home,” she said.
Heng Rattanak, a second year university student in Phnom Penh, was waiting at Vannaroth’s shop yesterday to withdraw $20. His parents, who live in Kandal province, send Rattanak some money every month to help pay for food and bills.
“It is a good system for me as a university student. It’s easy to use and not costly,” he said.
ADDITIONAL REPORTING BY HOR KIMSAY