Automated teller machines, or ATMs, are computerised telecommunications devices providing clients of a financial institution with access to money in public spaces without the need for human assistance and they are popular in modern and developed societies.
In the last couple of years, ATMs have become more prevalent in Cambodia and now are widely used around the country. Cambodians who used to send or transfer money via friends, family, taxis or money transfer shops, have changed their ways and now use ATMs because it is easier and faster for people. Teenagers especially like them, because using them makes them feel more modern and stylish.
A 20 year-old second-year student at IFL, Phorn Sam On has been using an ATM card for nearly one year. “It is really easy to get money; it is fast and I can withdraw money any time, while the charge of the service is cheap and affordable,” he said.
His parents in Kampong Cham province used to send him money for his living and studying in Phnom Penh through a taxi – however, now they have changed to using an ATM since taxis are not as convenient, safe and fast as an ATM.
Sorn Phalla, a 29 year-old hairdresser, who has had an ACLEDA Bank account for one year, said ATMs are very convenient because the are accessible 24 hours a day and it is quick to access her account as there are ATMs nearby.
ATMs can be used not only accessing money but also paying electric bills.
Leang Samnang, 23, a director of a kindergarten, has used an ANZ Royal Bank ATM card for almost 3 years – he said that he does not have to carry large amounts of money with him. “I just have an ATM card in my pocket – and whenever I need money, I go to withdraw money at an ATM,” he said.
However, he criticizes ATM services in Cambodia saying that ATMs here are not modern enough, especially in provinces due fewer numbers of ATM machines – making it difficult for users to go far away and withdraw money. That is different from Phnom Penh, Siem Reip and also in other countries where it is much easier to find ATMs.
ACLEDA Executive Vice Head So Phonnary said that there are 363,376 ACLEDA bank ATM users and most of the clients are 18 and older who have an average standard of living. She said that when a client loses his or her ATM card, ACLEDA will block their account and make a new one for clients, but one has to pay US$3 dollars for it.
“I think that in the future young people will be potential clients for her bank since they will be earning money and will use them for their convenience,” So Phonnary said.
Soi Sathya, manager of the card centre at Union Commercial Bank, which has provided ATMs since 2007, said that young people are the target client for his banks at the present time. Around 10 to 15 per cent of clients are young people.
“Young people are ... mostly are under the guidance of their parents with financial support,” he said.
He added that teenagers using ATM cards can get both pros and cons. “They can easily and safely withdraw money, however, they can just spend money without thinking or considering,” he said.