Local vendors can now use the KHQR network of the Bakong system, a part of the National Bank of Cambodia (NBC), to make payments to over 80 million Alipay merchants globally. The development comes as Cambodia and China expand cross-border payments to enhance trade, tourism and investment between the two nations.

Chea Serey, governor of the NBC and Douglas Feagin, senior vice president of Ant Group and head of Alipay+ signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) at the FinTech Expo in Singapore on November 13.

“The MoU aims to promote cross-border payment transactions via QR code between the KHQR network and Alipay+ efficiently and securely. Through this partnership, Bakong users can make payments with 83 million Alipay merchants worldwide,” the NBC said in a statement. 

International tourists visiting the country can also utilise the KHQR system for convenient payments, contributing to the country’s economic growth. Cambodian traders are required to have an account in riel (KHR) and accept payments in the currency. 

Serey encouraged financial institutions to promote KHR accounts and payments among vendors in order to reap maximum benefits from the system.

She highlighted the significance of the MoU, noting the country’s increasing popularity among Chinese and international tourists. 

“The simplicity of making payments provides merchants with a revenue boost, helping to stimulate economic activity. I’m confident this collaboration with Alipay+ will be beneficial for all parties, and I extend my wishes for continued success to all stakeholders as we embark on this journey of cooperation and achievement,” she said.

Feagin stated that the partnership will enhance the capability of Alipay partners to make payments across the KHQR network.

“We are grateful to the NBC for their partnership and support, which enables the acceptance of Alipay+ payment partners across the KHQR network. We believe this will offer added

convenience to tourists, who prefer to ‘pay like a local’, using their familiar payment methods wherever possible,” he said.

Khim Sambo Rothana, head of public relations and the Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) department at ABA Bank, welcomed the MoU, seeing it as a positive step towards promoting the use of KHR. 

“The collaboration shall provide Cambodian businesses greater access to international markets and facilitate cross-border payments. ABA is committed to supporting the use of KHR and will continue to work with NBC and other stakeholders to promote our local currency. ABA Bank has been actively promoting the use of KHR through its products and services,” he said. 

He noted that ABA customers can open additional accounts denominated in KHR through the ABA Mobile app, covering various types of accounts.

“We remain committed to working with relevant stakeholders to make it easy for Cambodian businesses to accept payments from customers worldwide. We believe it will boost the Cambodian economy and create new opportunities for local businesses. 

“ABA arguably has the largest network of merchants nationwide, with hundreds of thousands of in-store and online merchants. We are committed to further growing our network of merchants and vendors and making it easier for Cambodian businesses to accept and use KHR,” he stated.

In the first six months of 2023, Bakong recorded over 35.4 million transactions, amounting to more than $12 billion, approximately 67% of the Kingdom’s gross domestic product (GDP). Digital payment transactions during this period constituted 892% of GDP, as per the NBC.