Industrial and Commercial Bank of China's Yuan Qin Long (L) and Xu Guibei (C) join Union Commercial Bank’s CEO Yum Sui Sang (R). Photograph: Stuart Alan Becker/Phnom Penh Post
A new banking settlements system called CHANCES, dealing exclusively in the Chinese currency renminbi (RMB), aims to make trade between China and the ASEAN countries easier and less expensive.
Owned and operated by the Industrial and Commercial Bank of China (ICBC), the CHANCES system stands for China ASEAN Clearing Electronic System and was introduced yesterday at Hotel InterContinental.
It intends to make trade in RMB easier between China and all the ASEAN countries.
At a press conference yesterday at Hotel InterContinental, ICBC joined Cambodia’s Union Commercial Bank in a Chinese language event to describe the system, which was developed in-house by ICBC.
On hand were ICBC’s Head of International Trade Processing Center Yuan Qin Long along with Deputy Head of Guangxi Regional Headquarters Xu Guibei as well as Yum Sui Sang of the Union Commercial Bank and other officials and key players in Phnom Penh’s Chinese community.
While ICBC has its own branch office in Phnom Penh on Norodom Boulevard, the Union Commercial Bank has a correspondent relationship with ICBC, enabling its customers to also use the CHANCES system, many of whom are garment factories and trading houses with needs to both send and receive RMB to and from China.
The global SWIFT system of wire transfers, which stands for the Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication, uses standard Business Identifier Codes approved by the International Organization for Standardization (ISO).
ICBC’s CHANCES system intends to enable RMB transfers between China and all the ASEAN countries for lower rates than conventional US dollar wire settlements. Many Cambodia-based banks charge .020 per cent of the amount of an international transfer using the SWIFT code system, often with a minimum charge of $20 to $30.
It remained unclear how much lower priced or how much speedier ICBC’s Chance RMB system would be at yesterday’s event.
UCB’s CEO Yum Sui Sang said that while most Cambodians didn’t use RMB now, he believed the use of the Chinese currency will grow in the future.
“When we look forward, the use of RMB will be more and more. I put my focus on 2015. More and more companies in the ASEAN area will be doing business with China by 2015. Now Cambodia is using the US dollar, but in future the RMB will increase,” Yum said.
“I already have some customers that are making payments to China for machinery and equipment and they make remittance in RMB. The RMB eventually will be a strong currency.”
ICBC’s Deputy Head of Guangxi Regional Headquarters, Xu Guibei, said the purpose of yesterday’s event was to discuss how to facilitate RMB cross border settlement trading since the establishment of ICBC’s ASEAN clearing centre.
“The main advantages of our CHANCES system is high efficiency, security and price performance,” she said. “We can provide a better financial service for the Cambodian banks and the Cambodian import and export enterprises with the CHANCES system.”
Xu said ASEAN currencies quotations would also be provided, with only the Vietnamese dong now available and other currencies coming soon.
“If we do the settlement or the clearing business by RMB, it can reduce the exchange cost of the currency conversion. This is the advantage we have.”
Head of ICBC’s International Trade Processing Center Yuan Qin Long said Cambodia was very important to ICBC.
“Our main target in business is the traders who have the connections with China and also the enterprises of Chinese people in Cambodia.”
Yuan said ICBC was taking Cambodia more seriously than other ASEAN countries because of the open market and profit potential.
“Compared to other ASEAN countries, we are more serious about Cambodia because we think we can earn much profit from this market and because we have a very good friendship between China and the Cambodian people.”
Xu said it was her first visit to Cambodia and she expressed her condolences about the loss of King Father Norodom Sihanouk.
“Yesterday when we arrived here we saw there were a lot of pictures of King Father.
“He was the best of friend and the old friend of Chinese people, and he knew there was a great friendship between China and Cambodia,” she said.
“We want to pay our respect to the King Father and give our deepest condolences.”
Xu said Cambodia needed to be recognised for the good work during the past decades of maintaining the stability of the currency.
“The best thing they have done is to maintain the stability of the currency since the war, and that led to the Cambodian people’s living standards not being negatively affected by currency.”
To contact the reporter on this story: Stuart Alan Becker at [email protected]