Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Bakong app tops 8.5 million user accounts

Bakong app tops 8.5 million user accounts

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8.5 million accounts “have been using” Bakong e-wallets, with direct and indirect users accounting for around 0.5 million and eight million, respectively. NBC

Bakong app tops 8.5 million user accounts

The number of accounts with the Bakong system, a blockchain-based inter-bank mobile payment platform, has topped the 8.5 million mark, as the Cambodian digital-payment landscape continues to improve, according to National Bank of Cambodia (NBC) assistant governor Chea Serey on February 20.

Speaking at an event, Serey shared that 8.5 million accounts “have been using” Bakong e-wallets, with direct and indirect users accounting for around 0.5 million and eight million, respectively. “Bakong is not just for payment, customers can use [it for] health monitoring,” she said.

As of September, more than 0.5 million customers accounted for transactions in the Bakong system worth $1.2 billion, while direct and indirect transactions totalled two million, she added.

For comparison, Nikkei Asia reported that, through partnerships between the NBC and local banks to operate Bakong and boost adoption, the currency had reached 7.9 million Cambodians by November, directly or through apps offered by partner lenders.

Since its inception, about 6.8 million transactions had been made through Bakong as of November, clocking in at around $2.9 billion, the financial newspaper said.

The NBC officially launched the Bakong system in October 2020.

Cambodia Microfinance Association (CMA) spokesman Kaing Tongngy told The Post on February 22 that all deposit-licence holders among the organisation’s ranks are connected to Bakong, which he said ensures convenience in financial transactions for clients.

These, he said, include four commercial banks and five microfinance deposit-taking institutions (MDI).

For reference, as of end-2022, only five MDIs were operating in the Kingdom, namely Amret Plc, AMK Microfinance Institution Plc, PRASAC Microfinance Institution Plc, LOLC (Cambodia) Plc, and Mohanokor Microfinance Institution Plc.

“Bakong plays a crucial role in connecting all banks and microfinance institutions [MFI] in Cambodia by providing efficiency and convenience for clients while ensuring fair competition among financial institutions.

“Bakong provides a platform for innovation and growth where other financial and non-financial services can grow upon,” he said, boasting that CMA members give constant priority to development, innovation and applicability for clients.

The system allows for real-time fund transfer at no transaction costs between accounts at financial institutions, Tongngy said.

“We [have] also see[n] rapid adoption [by] merchant[s] throughout the Kingdom, including rural areas, starting to adopt KHQR for payment,” he said, referring to a universal quick response (QR) code system that the NBC says was created for retail payments in Cambodia as well as cross-border transactions within the ASEAN bloc.

On January 4, 2022, Nikkei announced that Bakong had won one of the Awards for Excellence in the 2021 Nikkei Superior Products and Services Awards “for its innovative technology and impact on the country’s economic and social development”.

The NBC’s Serey has often laid stress on Bakong’s purpose of enabling interoperability between banks and financial institutions, making digital payments easier, safer, more efficient and more cost-effective.

She told Nikkei on the occasion: “This interoperability between different players in the financial system would not only create added value to end-users in terms of the services but also help bridge the [gap between] banked and unbanked [and] rural and urban, thus creating social cohesion.”

“This is particularly noticeable among the migrant workers and students who leave their home villages to work or study in the urban areas and need financial connection with their family.”


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