Local public-listed ACLEDA Bank Plc plans to launch the KHQR universal quick response (QR) code system in Vietnam and Laos, and go live by end-2022 and the first quarter of 2023, respectively, in a move to facilitate cross-border payments as well as promote trade and investment, according to a senior executive.

“[The bank has] expanded its cross-border payment [capabilities] with Vietnam … and Laos,” ACLEDA senior executive vice-president Mar Amara told The Post, assuring that KHQR would go live in Vietnam “in the very near future”.

“Together with these, we also have set out the next plans for ASEAN with linkage with multilateral parties and partners through NEXUS Hub, or bilateral connection, as ACLEDA Bank has done with Thailand, Vietnam, and on progress with Laos, and digital trade that is under studying to connect with Thailand, ASEAN and APEC [Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation],” she said.

Amara’s comments come just over a week after the Cambodian and Vietnamese central banks entered into a memorandum of understanding (MoU) on cooperation in financial innovation and payment systems on November 8, in a move to accelerate development in the sector and boost cross-border payments between the two neighbouring ASEAN nations.

Amara sees the MoU as essential for the success of KHQR and the broader fintech ecosystem, asserting that the deal will encourage and improve the favourable and enabling conditions and environments needed for dependable, secure, trustworthy, efficient and effective cross-border payments.

“From our perspectives and expectation[s], such an important [partnership between adjacent nations] will greatly foster the cross-border payment [solutions conducive to] trade and investment [between] the two countries.

“It will be [a] more convenient, secure and cost-effective payment system [that incorporates] fintech and digital banking, [and] will further facilitate, improve and expedite cross-border trade, particularly [for the] commodity trade, business [and] investment, and strengthen socio-economic connections and links between the two countries.

“The KHQR standard for banking [QR] codes will be strongly promoted in Vietnam, similar to the arrangement that the NBC [National Bank of Cambodia] entered into with the Bank of Thailand,” she said, referring to an MoU signed between the Cambodian and Thai central banks in February 2019.

Four months later, the NBC selected three banks to implement a Cambodian-Thai QR code-based payment system: ACLEDA, Foreign Trade Bank of Cambodia and Cambodian Commercial Bank Ltd. Following a pilot run, the central bank officially launched the KHQR system on July 3, 2022.

According to the NBC’s 2021 Financial Stability Review, electronic payment transactions amounting to 415.5 trillion riel ($100 billion) were recorded nationwide last year. This marked an increase of 34.5 per cent year-on-year, as the number of e-wallet accounts reached 13.6 million, representing more than 80 per cent of the total population.