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Cynthia Liaw, CEO Maybank Cambodia

Borderless banking with Maybank

Debit cards, new financial products and overseas investments enable Cambodians to access the benefits of finance outside their country

Maybank CEO Cynthia Liaw may have only been on the job for nine months, but she already has an ambitious plan to offer a range of new products to Cambodian consumers and bring the Kingdom’’s banking culture in line with its Southeast Asian neighbours.

Before moving to Cambodia in March, Liaw headed the Virtual Banking & Payments and Cards Business at Maybank Singapore, the two divisions that deal with everything from electronic banking to credit card payments.

Bringing this experience to Cambodia, Liaw is leading Maybank Cambodia’s introduction of new debit card services, still a relatively new financial service in the Kingdom.

While most local banks issue payment cards, most can only be used at ATMs for cash withdrawal purposes. Debit cards work like a credit card, but instead of drawing on a line of credit, the card draws from existing funds in a customer’s account.

“A debit card is not an ATM card, which you use for cash withdrawal at an ATM. A debit card has a lot more functions. It allows you to shop online at all online merchants such as Amazon, do in-app purchases on Apple App Store, and buy air tickets online or via the airlines’ Mobile App. When you travel overseas, whether it is to Vietnam, Thailand, Laos, Singapore, or Malaysia, you will be able to have access to the funds in your account and enjoy all the discounts and privileges that Maybank cardholders in that overseas country enjoy,” she told Post Plus.

Maybank Cambodia currently offers a basic debit card, but will soon launch a new card aimed at young people (or the young at heart) and another card aimed at more affluent customers.

Together, they will expand Cambodians’ purchasing power, and also enable customers to shop online and make mobile payments without a credit card or relying on other counter services.

Besides changing the way Cambodians shop, Liaw hopes Maybank can change the way Cambodians invest from beyond local real estate and small consumer purchases.

“The primary investment vehicle customers think of in Cambodia is a house. So if they want to invest they think they can only buy a house,” she said. “Or they will say, ‘Ok, I will invest in a phone.’ And then they say, ‘I want to buy an Apple phone, that’s my investment.’ So I say, why not buy Apple shares? Apple is listed on NASDAQ and we can facilitate that. The minimum quantity is one share, which is about $120. Once the trading account is set up, our customers can trade online securely in the comfort of their home in Cambodia”

To facilitate broader investment, clients of Maybank Cambodia can be referred to one of its many sister companies abroad, like Maybank Kim Eng in Thailand or Singapore. There, customers can make more complex investments in stocks and bonds, or if they would like to consider overseas real estate in Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia or Philippines. “Our Maybank Private Wealth Client Advisor from Maybank Singapore can help advise our clients on suitable investment strategies based on specific wealth objectives and risk appetite of the clients. Customers can also have access to major global exchanges and build their wealth with our global trading facilities through Maybank Kim Eng, our stock-broking arm. Our Cambodian clients really need not look far for wealth management expertise,” added Liaw.

Should they choose to invest in Cambodia, Maybank also offers up to 70 per cent financing for real estate investments, and additional financing options for future developments, particularly in Phnom Penh’s rapidly growing condo market.

But joining Maybank means that customers don’t just get the bank’s financial services, they also get additional lifestyle perks.

Maybank cardholders seeking medical treatment/check-up in Singapore or Malaysia, for example, will only be charged the local rate at clinics which we have secured benefits for the Maybank cardholders, according Liaw. Being overcharged for medical services is one of the greatest concerns of Cambodians abroad.

With Maybank, Cambodians can join the bank’s community across Southeast Asia.

“This is one of the benefits of our card services. Because we have a regional set up, we have many offers in different countries. When our regional customers from Cambodia, Philippines or Indonesia get to Malaysia or Singapore, they can enjoy discounts and privileges that are available to locals in the country,” said Liaw.

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