Cambodia and Vietnam have officially launched a cross-border QR payment link, aimed at enhancing tourism, trade and investment between the two neighbouring ASEAN nations. 

The official implementation ceremony for the initiative, held on December 3 in Siem Reap province, was presided over by Chea Serey, governor of the National Bank of Cambodia (NBC), and Nguyen Thi Hong, governor of the State Bank of Vietnam (SBV).

According to an NBC press release, the effort follows a memorandum of understanding (MoU) inked by the two central banks on November 8, 2022. 

After the signing, technical working groups from both sides met to discuss the modality of the linkage, agreeing to utilise a sponsorship model for the project. 

Subsequently, the NBC appointed ACLEDA Bank Plc as Cambodia’s sponsorship bank, responsible for technical integration and acting as the settlement bank. 

The SBV designated the National Payment Corporation of Vietnam (NAPAS) for technical connections, with Joint Stock Commercial Bank for Investment and Development of Vietnam (BIDV) serving as the Vietnamese settlement bank. 

ACLEDA has since collaborated with Sacom Bank, BIDV, TV Banks and NAPAS of Vietnam.

“The NBC and the [BIDV] have reached a new historical milestone in cross-border connectivity with the official launch of QR payments. This represents another milestone in financial innovation and payment system linkage between the two countries, facilitating safe, convenient, secure and affordable cross-border payments, and promoting the use of local currencies. The launch is expected to particularly benefit Cambodian and Vietnamese citizens, especially tourists and merchants,” stated the press release.

The NBC emphasised the convenience the system brings: Cambodian citizens using the ACLEDA or Bakong mobile apps can now easily scan QR codes offered by Vietnamese merchants from BIDV and TPBank to pay for goods and services. 

Similarly, Vietnamese customers using the BIDV and TPBank mobile apps can make payments by scanning KHQR codes provided by approximately 1.8 million Cambodian merchants.

Serey, addressing the 2023 CamTech Summit on November 30, noted the central bank’s role in embracing modern technologies for payment systems. 

This includes introducing various mechanisms such as the National Clearing System (NCS), the Online Banking System (OBS), the NBC Platform (NBCP), the Cambodian Shared Switch (CSS), Fast Payment and notably Bakong – the backbone of the payment network.

Bakong, introduced in October 2020, aims to enhance interoperability, efficiency, financial inclusion and ease of use for the Cambodian riel (KHR). To date, 71 institutions have joined the platform, with 52 operational, serving over 10 million customers and processing a total of 63 million transactions.

“Alongside infrastructure development, the NBC is undertaking the cross-border QR code payment project with partner countries in the region,” she added.

In Channy, president and group managing director of ACLEDA, recently stated that the bank had already successfully launched QR payment systems with Thailand and Laos.

He said that all of these initiatives aim to facilitate easier payment for goods and services, promote the widespread use of the Khmer riel (KHR) for settlements in the local region and support financial inclusion as part of the integration into the ASEAN Economic Community (AEC).

“The cross-border QR payment system enables customers and the public to purchase goods and make payments in Khmer riel (KHR) in Vietnam, enhancing convenience and security. It also provides a convenient means for Cambodians travelling to Vietnam to make payments through QR code without the need for cash,” he said.