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Mobile money transfer heats up

People leave the head office of True Money Cambodia yesterday in Phnom Penh. True Money is investing in its operations in the Kingdom in an attempt to take a share of the money transfer segment.
People leave the head office of True Money Cambodia yesterday in Phnom Penh. True Money is investing in its operations in the Kingdom in an attempt to take a share of the money transfer segment. Heng Chivoan

Mobile money transfer heats up

True Money, a new entrant to Cambodia’s growing mobile money-transfer market, said yesterday it will start operations across the Kingdom from January 1, with the first phase focusing only on local transfers, according to a company official.

The money-transfer service, which comes under the Thailand-based Charoen Pokphand Group conglomerate, has invested $15 million under its first phase and will have 5,000 agents across the country, said Kong Mean, commercial director at True Money.

“This investment is only a starting point. We plan to expand to international money transfers soon, and in 2016 we will complete [our service expansion] in all ASEAN countries”, he added.

Mean said the money-transfer service decided to enter the market because of the large opportunity presented by the Kingdom, given that 90 per cent of Cambodia’s population was still unbanked.

“We see people are at risk [with informal services]”, he said, “[Our service] will help support and make their life better, with more security and low risk.”

Given that the investment was part of an ASEAN expansion plan, Mean said the next step would be to start transfer services to Thailand and then to the rest of ASEAN.

True Money will have to compete with an increasingly crowded segment, which already has Royal Group-backed Wing, AMK Money Transfer, Metfone’s E-money and AsiaWeiluy.

Mean said they were not looking at competing with existing services and their service would charge affordable transfer fees, as well as provide a well-established network of agents.

“We do not want to focus on a price war,” he said, “[The company] wants to build the largest agent distribution network and be the first choice for payment solutions.”

The company, which is already present in Thailand, Myanmar, Indonesia, the Philippines and Vietnam, will also provide other services, such as bill payment, payroll, phone top up and lottery sales.

Chea Roattana, head of Branchless Banking and Channel Management at AMK Microfinance Institution, which runs the 2,500-agent strong AMK Money Transfer, said having a new service will provide added options for customers and help push a higher quality of service in the sector.

“For customers, it is good for them. They may have many choices and they can choose the best one”, he said.

Than Sovanary, a Wing agent since 2013, said that she has seen the number of customers visiting her agency drop from 450 to around 130 a day, since the arrival of competing services.

“[The number of customers] declined due to E-money and because Wing added more agencies,” she added.

Sovanary didn’t expect True Money to have an immediate impact on her business, but said that as the competing service grows it could eat into her customer numbers.

True Money has also established a partnership with mobile service providers, such as Metfone and Smart, and is also in talks with two other companies, CoolTel and SeaTel.

Cellcard, the other cell phone service provider in the country, is under the Royal Group, which owns Wing.

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