MOBITEL would need approval from the National Bank of Cambodia to set up its planned mobile money-transfer service, National Bank of Cambodia Director General Tal Nay Im said yesterday.
“If they launch this service, they should ask for NBC permission,” she said. “Money transfers are banking, and fall under the NBC.”
Operations manager for market leader Mobitel, Kay Lot, said last week that the firm’s new money-transfer service – to be launched in the next eight weeks – would not be subject to oversight from the NBC.
“We don’t think this is banking”, he said.
Kay Lot could not be reached for comment yesterday and Mobitel’s CEO David Spriggs declined to comment, saying that it was too early to release specific details of the transfer project.
Mobitel received a grant from the GSM Association Foundation in May to create a mobile money-transfer system aimed at providing services for the Kingdom’s unbanked, with money stemming from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.
WING, a subsidiary of ANZ Bank, presently operates a similar service in Cambodia, and is overseen by the NBC.
Charles Vann, vice president of the Association of Banks in Cambodia, said yesterday that the NBC was charged with oversight of the industry, extending to any commercial bank conducting its business in Cambodia.
Mobitel has previously declined to specify whether it was looking to a banking partner to secure payments. Its owner, Royal Group, controls 45 percent of ANZ Royal Bank.
ANZ Royal Bank CEO Stephen Higgins declined to comment directly on the issue, but said the bank was not in talks with anyone over mobile payments.
“We naturally can't comment on whether a particular individual or company has an account with us,” he said.
“However we can say that we haven't been approached by any mobile-payments businesses seeking to leverage our network or act as an agent of ours.”