As Cambodia’s banking sector braces for the local impact of a growing international financial storm, expansion of existing infrastructure continues to target the needs of customers
Photo by: HENG CHIVOAN
Easier access to client funds is a principal aim of Cambodia’s growing network of banks.
Despite concerns over the impact of the global credit crunch on local financial institutions, Cambodian banks are expanding their network of ATMs to provide customers with easier access to their money.
In Channy, president and chief executive of ACLEDA Bank, told the Post last week that the growth of automated teller machines has boomed in the last few years as living conditions improve and greater progress is made in modernising the Kingdom's banking sector.
"In 2007, [we] had 20 ATMs. Now, we have 60 ATMs with plans to reach 100 by the end of this year," In Channy said.
"Our ATMs have been installed in all parts of Cambodia," he added. "Our long-term expansion strategy will include an expansion of our network to 500 ATMs and 240 branch offices nationwide."
The bank also has plans to roll out point-of-sale (POS) terminals across the country to make in-store purchases easier for its customers.
In Channy said ACLEDA will install 1,000 POS terminals this year and hopes to have 3,000 terminals across the Kingdom within three years.
BANKERS MODERNISE SERVICES SUCH AS ATMS AND CREDIT CARDS TO SATISFY CUSTOMERS.
ACLEDA has 420,000 depositers, out of which 190,000 have been issued ATM cards, In Channy said, adding that ACLEDA has the largest number of ATM cardholders in the country.
Further expansion in rural areas, seen by many as a key ingredient to the sector's future growth, is not a question of cost but energy.
"ATMs are not expensive - around US$20,000 each. The barrier to expansion is a shortage of electricity in rural areas, and in some cases the absence of electricity," In Channy said.
"ATMs need 24-hour electricity daily, so expansion will depend on districts that have access to full-time electricity."
Stephen Higgins, chief executive of ANZ Royal Bank, said last week that the bank's ATM network accounts for nearly 50 percent of the whole market in Cambodia.
"So far, we have 127 ATMs, up from 91 in 2007. This year, we expect to add only 10 more because our network already covers most of the major population centres in Cambodia. So, we are slowing down our roll out as we are running out of places to put them," Higgins said.
The first ATM in Cambodia was introduced by Canadia Bank in June 2004, according to the National Bank of Cambodia's (NBC) 2007 annual report.
Kunkanel Nong, a marketing manager at Canadia Bank, said that ATMs have become more popular among banking clients because they offer a secure and easy access point for cash without fees for in-network usage.
He said Canadia currently operates 48 ATMs throughout Cambodia, up from 25 in 2007, and that the bank expects to reach 60 ATMs by the end of this year.
Unlike ACLEDA or ANZ, Canadia's ATM network is interconnected with three other banks to offer customers easier access to their accounts.
"We are connected with the new domestic switch called ‘Easy Cash', which is linked with Mekong Bank, SBC and UCB, and we hope more banks will follow our path to make life easier for their cardholders by allowing them to use their cards in any ATM from any local or international bank," Kunkanel Nong said.
Cambodian banks have rapidly modernised their products and services in recent years in response to client needs, said Tal Nay Im, director general of NBC.
"Bankers modernise services such as ATMs and credit cards to satisfy customers and to keep up with progress in the banking industry globally," she said.
"We still lag behind compared to neighbouring countries because we have only made progress in the last few years."