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Cambodian banks partner with Visa to launch integrated ATMs

Cambodian banks partner with Visa to launch integrated ATMs

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System to allow customers to use cash points at competing banks, raising the number of available ATMs and making banking easier

VANDY RATTANA

National Bank of Cambodia Governor Chea Chanto in a file photo.

FOUR of Cambodia's key banks have partnered with Visa to launch the Kingdom's first integrated ATM system that bank officials say will allow customers to make withdrawals and check balances at competitor banks without facing international charges.

"[The system] will make it easier to perform financial transactions ... and provide greater convenience," said Truong Minh Ha, the country manager for Visa, which set up the Easy Cash system with Canadia Bank, Mekong Bank, SBC and Union Commercial Bank.

Visa operates VisaNet, the world's largest retail electronic payment network, connecting 16,000 banks and 1.6 billion cards, with access to 29 million merchants and one million ATMs around the world, the company said in a statement.

"The VisaNet system will increase the number of ATMs available to our customers ... we are looking to have up to 126 ATMs connected under VisaNet before the end of 2008," said Luis Chen, vice president of Canadia Bank, in a statement.

Many Cambodian ATMs are already linked to the international Plus system, which allows for cross-bank withdrawals and balance checks. But Plus requires customers to pay international rates.

THE [EASY CASH] SYSTEM WILL ALLOW FOR RAPID, CHEAP

AND SAFE MONEY.

"Easy Cash will be priced for the local market ... this system is for Cambodia and has a different set of relations," said Stuart Tomlinson, Visa's Malaysia country manager.
A latecomer to the ATM market, Cambodia has seen an explosion in the machines in the past two years, with their numbers quadrupling since January 2007.

More than 600 ATMs are available throughout the country today, according to National Bank of Cambodia (NBC) Governor Chea Chanto.

"The [Easy Cash] system will allow for rapid, safe and cheap money, and increase integration of our bank system," Chea Chanto said.

Acleda Bank, Cambodia's largest bank in terms of the number of branches, said that the new system is a major step for electronic banking.

"Location and coverage [of ATMs] will increase. We are already nationwide, so it won't affect the number of provinces we are in, but it will increase access and convenience," said Acleda CEO In Channy. Acleda is an observer, but not a member of the network.

Acleda is not part of the Easy Cash system, but has launched its own aggressive ATM campaign, issuing more than 130,000 cards for its branches around Cambodia, according to In Channy.

The fees for the service have not yet been established and are subject to negotiation between individual banks, officials said.

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