The National Bank of Cambodia (NBC) and the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) have jointly announced the launch of the Financial Transparency Corridor (FTC) initiative. 

This announcement was made on June 18 during a ceremony at Istana, Singapore, attended by Singaporean Prime Minister Lawrence Wong and Prime Minister Hun Manet, who is paying a June 18-19 official visit to the city-state.

“The FTC aims to bolster trade and cross-border financial services between small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in Singapore and Cambodia through a consent-based digital infrastructure,” explained a joint media release. 

The platform facilitates improved accessibility to data by the participating financial institutions, enabling more accurate credit risk assessments and increasing the availability of financing for SMEs. The FTC is developed and managed by Singaporean firm Proxtera Pte Ltd.

“Thanks to the participation of financial institutions from Cambodia and Singapore, it supports greater access to financial services for SMEs, through the exchange of data,” said Chia Der Jiun, managing director of MAS, which serves as Singapore’s central bank and financial regulator. 

“This will create greater business opportunities for our SMEs and the financial institutions which are a part of it,” he added.

From Cambodia, the institutions involved include Advanced Bank of Asia Ltd, ACLEDA Bank PLC, Phillip Bank PLC, Sathapana Bank PLC and Wing Bank PLC. 

Singapore is represented by ANEXT Bank Pte Ltd, Liquid Group Pte Ltd and Sing Investments & Finance Limited. 

“The FTC exemplifies the shared vision of the NBC and MAS to support information flow for businesses, particularly SMEs, through enhanced financial trust data for financial services between Singapore and Cambodia,” said NBC governor Chea Serey.

“This initiative promotes better access to finance for SMEs across borders and underscores our commitment to fostering trade, financial services and sustainable economic development,” she added.

Initial transactions under the FTC framework are already underway. For instance, Sing Investments & Finance Limited is providing financing to Singapore SMEs such as JR Group, for purchasing raw materials and commodities from Cambodian SMEs. Liquid Group Pte Ltd is facilitating foreign currency payment checks related to this trade. 

In Cambodia, Sathapana Bank PLC is leveraging the FTC to finance Cambodian SMEs, including Comin Khmere Company Ltd, an importer of building materials from various Singaporean SMEs.

Te Taingpor, president of the Federation of Association for Small and Medium Enterprises of Cambodia (Fasmec) could not be reached for comment on June 19. 

Future phases of the FTC initiative will involve more financial institutions and transactions, with plans to explore green finance and trade finance. 

This expansion aims to further strengthen trade between the two countries. The FTC initiative is based on a July 2023 Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between the MAS and the NBC.

Sok Chan, spokesman for the Association of Banks in Cambodia (ABC), expressed the association’s support for the initiatives of the Cambodian and Singaporean governments to support SME cross-border trade.

“The FTC helps connect the SMEs of the two countries through the banking system,” said Chan. 

“In this regard, participating financial institutions will facilitate the payment of letters of credit from banks, transactions related to the exchange of shares in the platform of SMEs,” he told the Post.