The Cambodia Microfinance Association (CMA) and the independent financial information provider Credit Bureau (Cambodia) Co Ltd (CBC) have chipped in with a total of more than $2 million to support a five-year project designed to widen financial inclusion in the Kingdom.

The Responsible Inclusive Finance Project Phase II (RIF 2022-2026) is in line with the central bank’s National Strategy on Financial Inclusion 2019-2025, a joint statement said, adding that the CMA and CBC respectively contributed $1.2 million and around $1 million.

A memorandum of understanding (MoU) was signed between the two institutions at the 16th Annual General Assembly and the 2nd Annual Forum on Strengthening the Resilience and Sustainability of the Microfinance Sector in Cambodia on February 11.

The statement defined “financial inclusion” as “the ability to access and use formal financial products and services among individuals and businesses in a timely manner and in accordance with their needs, affordability and with legal protection”.

CMA chairman Sok Voeun said in the statement that RIF 2022-2026 “will prioritise on raising financial literacy among the Cambodian people, promoting the role of microfinance and strengthening the resilience of the microfinance sector in line with the national financial inclusion strategy.

“The association has already finished preparing its five-year strategy, in parallel with the national strategy,” he said.

CBC CEO Oeur Sothearoath said his company is committed to enhancing financial inclusion in the Kingdom, through this partnership with the CMA.

“CBC has always been active in supporting the activities of the CMA and financial inclusion in Cambodia, as well as the development of Cambodia’s financial sector as a whole,” he said.

CMA Communications Department director Kaing Tongngy told The Post on February 16 that the 2019-2021 first phase of the Responsible Inclusive Finance Project mainly focused on education, financial literacy among clients, and mainstreaming consumer protection mechanisms, in an effort to make the sector strong and sustainable.

He said RIF 2022-2026 would similarly centre on three key areas – firstly, empowering clients through financial literacy.

The second focus will be on customer protection mechanisms, which entails working with service providers and recipients to ensure transparency and accountability, and that clients understand their rights and obligations, he said.

The third will involve building partnerships and networks, and strengthening the services provided by CMA members, he added.

Established in 2012 and also known as the Credit Bureau of Cambodia, CBC has earned a reputation as a leading provider of financial information, analytics solutions and credit reporting services to financial institutions and clients in the Kingdom.

“CBC assists clients in risk management and incentives for financial and business decisions through a variety of solutions such as individual credit reports, corporate credit reports, the credit score [K-Score], data analysis reports, portfolio management services, portfolio monitoring services, and customised solutions for clients,” the statement said.

Speaking to The Post in 2019, CBC’s Sothearoath explained the K-Score, or Khmer Score, as a measure of “applicants’ potential credit risk at the point of application and predicts the likelihood of payment default in the next 12 months”.