Three associations have teamed up to promote financial inclusion through innovative technological solutions, capacity building and a flourishing fintech ecosystem for the benefit of the industry and Cambodians.

A memorandum of understanding was signed to this effect on September 19 by the chairmen of the Association of Banks in Cambodia (ABC), Cambodia Microfinance Association (CMA) and Cambodian Association of Finance and Technology (CAFT), respectively, Raymond Sia, Sok Voeun and Pell Remi Sisophon.

The deal is expected to enhance the strategic partnership between the three institutions to further development of the fintech (financial technology) framework.

ABC’s Sia said the MoU “is a symbol of our ongoing commitment to the financial sector and the Cambodian people”, adding that the deal includes three primary cooperative objectives on its “key agenda”.

These three are: serving as industry partners for the Cambodian fintech and start-up community; executing and monitoring the implementation of the Banking and Financial Institutions’ Code of Conduct (BFI CoC); and collaborating on fintech adoption activities and capacity building.

“Digitalisation, innovation and technology are centred around our customers. The financial industry is a people-centric industry. Financial services are [a] primary need. [Strengthening] systems to ensure [they] reach all Cambodian citizen[s] is crucial for the success and sustainability of the sector and the economy.

“The MoU signing [signals] the commitment and joint efforts to promote further the development of the fintech framework and to contribute, with the government, to achieve the goals toward the digital adoption and digital transformation of the country, [as expressed by the slogan:] ‘Digitalized Citizens, Digital Business and Digital Government,’” he said.

CMA’s Voeun took the occasion to tout the efforts of the association’s members towards improving the people’s livelihoods, sharing that, as of June 30, the 117 of its 122 members that are not banks collectively have more than $8.7 billion in outstanding loans, to two million customers, and $4.6 billion in deposits in 2.6 million accounts.

These 117 institutions comprise 79 microfinance institutions (MFI) – five of which are authorised to take deposits – 26 rural credit institutions and 12 financial leasing companies, he noted.

“The MoU will not only foster meaningful technological development in the banking and financial sector, but also deliver new opportunities for Cambodians to understand these new technologies, especially those who own businesses in the financial sector, to ensure that their transactions are more efficient, convenient and faster,” Voeun said.

CAFT’s Remi Sisophon commented that the “spirit of collaboration” behind the MoU “is a driving force … for our respective associations to join hands more firmly, to address the sectoral issues by bringing awareness, education, and most importantly, innovation to solve some of these challenges that we face.

“Each of our respective associations aims bring to the table each other[’s] strengths, but honestly at times their weakness[es] too. Nevertheless, this shall not cast shadow of gloom and we shall overcome for the benefit of the industry, business partners and consumers,” he said.

Kith Sovannarith, National Bank of Cambodia (NBC) first deputy director-general for banking supervision, said the MoU would supplement the central bank’s efforts in promoting financial inclusion through the advancement of technology and innovation.

Through innovative banking products and services – such as virtual payment cards, contactless technologies, mobile and QR Code payments, and online credit ratings – along with other fintech solutions, the NBC aims to provide more convenient and affordable access to finance for small- and medium-sized enterprises (SME) and individuals with limited access to formal services, he said.