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Financial literacy far below par, study finds

A man uses an Acleda Bank ATM.
A man uses an Acleda Bank ATM. Hong Menea

Financial literacy far below par, study finds

Financial literacy in Cambodia continues to chalk up low rankings, although the level of understanding of financial products available is largely in line with expectations based on the Kingdom’s current GDP, according to a new study.

The Asian Development Bank Institute (ADBI) said in a report released yesterday that it conducted surveys in Cambodia and Vietnam to measure financial literacy across various segments of the population, differentiating the results by age group, income level and education.

Cambodia received a total score of 11.5 out of a possible 21, while Vietnam scored 12, according to the report, much lower than the average from surveys conducted in 30 Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) member countries.

“These scores are much lower than the 30-country average score of 13.3 and those of some other developing Asian economies such as Thailand (12.8) and Malaysia (12.3),” the report said. “However, these results may be taken as being neutral to positive, given that the levels of per capita income in those two countries are considerably lower than those in any of the other 30 countries in OECD.”

Only 17 percent of Cambodians could answer five out of seven questions on financial knowledge in the survey correctly, which is considered a baseline for financial literacy, the report showed. This is compared to 26.6 percent in Vietnam and 56 percent for the 30 OECD countries.

“In both countries, younger and higher-income respondents have higher financial knowledge scores,” it said. “While there is no difference in financial knowledge between rural residents and urban residents in Cambodia, there is a significant gap between the two groups in Vietnam.”

The report also shows that education plays an important role in financial literacy, and in Cambodia respondents with a tertiary education scored higher than respondents who only completed secondary or primary education. The different levels of financial understanding have a significant impact of savings behaviour of individuals, it added.

“With regards to savings behaviour, only 11.5 percent of Cambodian respondents reported having savings products, while the figure is 23.4 percent in Vietnam,” the report said.

According to figures in the report, only 16 percent of respondents in Cambodia do not save in any form, while 71.5 percent save through informal channels.

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