Financial institutions that were abruptly ordered to change their logos earlier this year due to the perceived similarities with state iconography have begun issuing new bank cards to their clients free of charge.
Acleda Bank, the nation’s largest commercial bank, has announced that starting Monday its clients can visit its branches to obtain new bank cards. The ATM, debit and credit cards bear the bank’s new logo and have been upgraded to replace the magnetic strip on some older cards with more secure chip technology.
Meanwhile, Prasac Microfinance, the Kingdom’s largest microfinance institution (MFI) in terms of assets, has said it would soon announce when its clients can come in to receive new bank cards to replace those with its now-defunct logo.
In February, the Council of Ministers ordered Acleda Bank to replace the mythical bird it had used for 23 years on its signage due to its similarity with the logo of the Ministry of Economy and Finance, claiming that the resemblance could lead consumers to mistakenly assume that the private bank was a state-owned institution – and by extension that their private debt was owed to the government.
Days later, Prime Minister Hun Sen urged Prasac Microfinance to shelve its logo, which resembled both the symbol of the riel currency and the logo of the central bank, threatening to withdraw the microlender’s licence if it failed to comply immediately.
Both banks have already issued new logos and changed signage at their branches nationwide. Sathapana Bank, while not named directly, pre-emptively removed the mythical golden lion from its logo due to its similarity to the logos of the National Police and the General Department of Taxation.
In Channy, president and group managing director of Acleda Bank, said the bank aims to phase out the estimated 800,000 bank cards that still bear its old logo within a year.
“For existing customers, they will not be charged any additional fees to have their cards changed,” he said. “But for new customers that apply for accounts after June 26, they will be charged the same fees that new customers have always paid.”
According to Channy, the free replacement offer is open ended and the bank will not deactivate the cards of customers who fail to respond.
“Deactivation of accounts will not happen and customers can use their cards for as long as they want,” he said. “We will just advise them to come in for the change or notify them when they visit a branch and use bank services, such as taking out a loan or making deposits.”
However, for security reasons and accuracy the bank will not mail out the new cards, he said.
“We can’t just preprint the cards and have them ready because we need clients to confirm their identity and make sure that accurate data is being switched over to the new cards,” he explained.
While Channy declined to say how much the bank would have to swallow to issue the new cards, he confirmed previous statements to The Post that Acleda Bank had set aside $3.5 million to cover expenses related to changing its logo.
Say Sony, vice president of Prasac and head of its marketing division, said the MFI was also proceeding on its planned roll out of new bank cards, and would announce the change soon through social media and direct phone calls to its 85,000 cardholders.
“We already have the cards preordered with the new logo and are waiting for them to be delivered because we have to source them from overseas,” he said, adding that the new cards would be issued free of charge.
Sony stood by the previous announcement that the MFI had set aside $1 million for the logo change. He said each new bank cards would cost about $1 each to issue, bringing the total for the switch to around $85,000.
“I think we can change over to the new cards rather quickly,” he said. “Hopefully it will be completed by the end of the fourth quarter of this year.”
Sony also assured that Prasac would not deactivate the accounts or bank cards of customers who failed to collect their new cards.