ing, the leading mobile payment and money transfer provider in Cambodia, is set to launch their services beyond the Kingdom’s borders to ease the flow of money for migrant workers.
Although the programme is still in the pilot phase, according to Wing CEO Anthony Perkins, by the middle of next month Cambodians working in foreign countries will be able to send money back home to recipients with Wing accounts.
“We are testing [international money transfer] with partners abroad to make sure that it is fully bulletproof before we have a full commercial launch. The first big splash will be in Thailand next month with Kasikorn Bank” said Perkins.
“You could be in a remote end of Ratanakari, receive an SMS notification that a transfer has been sent from a family member working in Thailand, and travel to a Wing Cash Xpress outlet and be able to withdraw the money from your account straight away,” Perkins explained.
Perkins said that by forming partnerships with the Kasikorn Bank, the main aim is to get cost of remittance as low as possible, adding that the vast majority of Wing users fall into the bottom rung of the income bracket where, undoubtedly, “every last dollar counts.”
“If you compare our service to the existing ones, we are able to do it at a fraction of the cost compared to the traditional banking and international money transfer organizations. So for example, sending money from Thailand to Cambodia through Wing, you are looking at roughly a $6 transfer fee where it is currently costing people around $20,” he said.
While Kasikorn Bank is only the first partner announced to carry Wing services, the company will expand the transfer system regionally with further partners in Vietnam, Malaysia, South Korea and Singapore – countries where Cambodian migrant workers often find employment.
Ultimately, Wing plans to help facilitate money transfers from Khmer diaspora communities by working with remittance companies in Australia, Canada, the US, the UK and France. “Those channels will be launching in quarter three of this year,” he said.
Operating since 2009 to provide financial solutions for Cambodia’s primarily rural, unbanked population, Wing received a specialized banking license last September which granted it more control of its own customers’ financial activity, as well as the company’s growth and expansion of services into the financial sector.
Wing currently operates through close to 3,000 Cash Xpress outlets located in all provinces and districts of Cambodia. According to the CEO, the company had over one million users last month alone. Already having a vast amount of coverage, the company plans to have a presence in every commune by the end of next year totaling close to 4,000 outlets, providing the deepest reach of any financial institution operating in Cambodia.
“It doesn’t matter where you are in Cambodia. [Our customers] will be within 25 to 30 kilometers from a Wing Cash Xpress outlet where you can deposit money just to keep it safe, take the money back out again, send money, pay bills and top up your phone and pay for goods and services as well,” said Perkins.
Wing, like many mobile payment and money providers operating around the world, understands the value of being able to reach those that are typically unreachable.
“One of the biggest things you will find in developing nations, like in Cambodia, is that many of the people at the bottom of the pyramid don’t want to walk into a bank branch; they are intimidated. So they are immediately excluded from the banking industry,” said Perkins, adding that Wing and its outlets effectively become the entrance into the formal banking sector.
According to Perkins, all of the traditional banks in Cambodia are currently focused on just the top 5 to 10 per cent of the financial market, even including MFIs in some instances.
“There is still a massive gap between the people who have a bank account and those who don’t. But the one thing that the other 90 to 95 per cent all have in common is that they all have mobile phones,” he said.
Wing has collaborated with the three biggest telecommunications companies in Cambodia—Smart, Cellcard and Metfone—as well as smaller entities like Qb and Cootel, to bring the availability of basic financial services to everyone in Cambodia.
“Ultimately, our aim is to leverage the mobile network infrastructure to offer basic financial products to everyone in Cambodia,” he said.
Acknowledging the fact that mobile penetration has reached a tipping point, where the availability and cost of devices has allowed many Cambodians to acquire smartphones, Wing will be launching a mobile application later this year to spur even more mobile transactions.
“The app will be available in Khmer language and will include a far more intuitive and secure interface for transactions, along with a host of new features that are not currently possible via the existing USSD service,” he said.