The Association of Banks in Cambodia (ABC) has entered into a partnership with three digital payment firms to extend the access of contactless EMV chip standards, strengthen the domestic payment ecosystem, and support the central bank’s Cambodian Shared Switch (CSS) network as well as CSS Co-Badge.
At a ceremony on November 23 presided over by National Bank of Cambodia (NBC) assistant governor Chea Serey, a memorandum of understanding (MoU) was penned to this effect by ABC chairman In Channy and local executives of Visa, MasterCard and UnionPay International – a subsidiary of Chinese state-owned UnionPay.
These were Visa country manager for Cambodia Monika Chum, MasterCard Cambodia country business development director Tek Sophal and UnionPay International Cambodia country general manager Leang Chenda.
Originally standing for “Europay, Mastercard and Visa”, the three companies that created the standard, EMV cards store data on integrated circuit chips rather than on traditional magnetic stripes, making them far more difficult to counterfeit.
Maintained by the NBC, the CSS mechanism is purportedly designed to improve interoperability between banks and microfinance deposit-taking institutions (MDI), modernise and optimise payment systems and services, remove cash in circulation, and promote inter-bank transactions.
ABC’s Channy said the MoU conforms to the government’s National Strategy on Financial Inclusion 2019-2025 and Cambodia Digital Economy and Society Policy Framework 2021-2035.
He said the government aims to lay the foundation for the promotion of digital adoption and transformation in all parts of society – the state, citizens, and businesses – to build a “vibrant” digital socio-economic ecosystem that stimulates new economic growth and improves social welfare in the “new normal”.
“The MoU … marks a big milestone toward the adoption and the implementation of a digital economy and the transformation to a cashless society.
“The ABC and the three international card schemes have been actively collaborating to promote the digital agenda in Cambodian society,” Channy said.
Visa’s Chum said: “Providing our technology for co-badging by commercial banks and microfinance deposit-taking institutes is a testament to Visa’s commitment to the market.
“This will allow the entire payments industry to benefit from our world-leading technology, supporting the local payments ecosystem to grow more robust,” she added.
MasterCard country manager for Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos Winnie Wong said: “Across the world and even in Cambodia, consumers are adopting a digital-first approach to how they live, work and pay.
“Mastercard is honoured to be part of this MoU that will play a pivotal role in enabling Cambodia’s ambition of becoming a leading digital economy,” she added.
Meanwhile, UnionPay’s Chenda said the corporation is “fully aligned” with the NBC on fostering a cashless society in the Kingdom and making financial services more inclusive and efficient.
“We are delighted to collaborate with ABC to help modernise Cambodia’s payment infrastructure and encourage more innovation in payment products and services.
“Outside Cambodia, UnionPay customers can use the cards internationally through network across 179 markets,” she said.
The NBC’s Serey said payment systems play “a crucial role in contributing to the economic development through providing efficient payment for trade and fund transfer”.
She said that with the rapid development of technology, banking and financial institutions have leveraged innovative technologies such as ATMs and point-of-sale (POS) terminals, as well as contactless, mobile and QR payments to facilitate operations and meet market demand.
“The MoU signing today will further address remaining challenges by enabling faster adoption of [the] CSS system for members of institutions, providing the convenience to customers to use payment cards and [the] CSS system, and improve the NBC’s implementation of its Notification.
“Promoting safety and efficiency of the payment systems is the main objective of the National Bank of Cambodia in order to support [the] financial inclusion agenda of the government and move toward a cashless economy.
“To achieve this, it requires the commitment and collaboration between authorities and private sector, not only in Cambodia but also in the region,” Serey said.