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Local platform Pi Pay proves cashless works

A customer checks the Pi Pay application on her phone in May in Phnom Penh’s City Mall.
A customer checks the Pi Pay application on her phone in May in Phnom Penh’s City Mall. Heng Chivoan

Local platform Pi Pay proves cashless works

Just one month into operation, mobile payment platform Pi Pay has already processed over $1 million in digital transactions, dispelling concerns that the Kingdom might not be ready for cashless payments, the company’s CEO said yesterday.

Tomas Pokorny, CEO of Pi Pay Asia, said over 30,000 smartphone users have downloaded the Pi Pay app and the platform has handled more than 100,000 transactions at 150 merchant locations across Phnom Penh.

“Honestly, progress has been surprising and we have surpassed all of our expectations,” he said. “A lot of people in the business community previously said Cambodia was not ready for such a platform, but it has been a very interesting first month.”

While he added that the application is still in its beta testing stage, with the company collecting feedback from customers and merchants to better serve local consumers, he said the goal was to develop a fully cashless system.

“Right now, we still need pay and go kiosks and small merchant’s stands,” he said. “But we plan to go fully cashless this month, meaning you can get money in and out through banking partners.”

While Pokorny declined to name the banking partners, he said 10 major commercial lenders had already agreed to roll out the platform, which also provides digital payroll services. The company has also inked agreements with 1,400 businesses to utilise the service, which is expected to be available at over 300 merchant locations by the end of the month.

“This shows that the e-commerce for Cambodia is huge and can start to really generate some traction,” he said. “While nobody knew what a disruptive product like Pi Pay would achieve, we are helping to speed up e-commerce and cashless payments and we know we will have to continue to expand.”

Chou Ngeth, senior consultant at Emerging Markets Consulting, said while the market for cashless applications was very much in its infancy, the high penetration of smartphones in Cambodia was a promising sign for growth. He added that once financial institutions tap into cashless payment systems they could reduce operational cost burdens and streamline services.

However, he said digital money platforms will need to grow to sufficient scale to succeed.

“The cashless payment business is growing, but it doesn’t necessarily mean [firms like Pi Pay] are having honeymoon period,” he said. “It takes time to reach a commercially viable scale and they have to have big upfront investment and they are required to creatively build an aggressive business model to accelerate growth.”

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