Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Mobile services often first step to banking

Mobile services often first step to banking

A customer visits a Wing outlet in Phnom Penh last year.
A customer visits a Wing outlet in Phnom Penh last year. Vireak Mai

Mobile services often first step to banking

The rapid growth in the number of Cambodians using mobile money services to transfer remittances is a positive step towards greater financial inclusion, and is serving as a gateway to financial services for the largely unbanked rural population, experts said yesterday.

Panelists speaking at the Mekong Financial Inclusion Forum said Cambodians until recently relied on informal methods of remitting money to their families, such as sending money by bus or entrusting it to a person travelling to their home village.

However, the advent of Wing in 2009 and the subsequent launches of mobile money transfers by several local banks and microfinance institutions (MFIs), has given people a safer and more convenient alternative.

Ron Bevacqua, managing director of Access Advisory, a Manila-based consultancy working to address poverty by promoting financial inclusion, said Cambodia’s growing array of mobile money transfer services has largely replaced informal means of remitting money. And by using these services, people living in rural areas are beginning to see the benefits of regulated financial services.

Bank and MFIs should pay close attention to this fact, he said, adding: “Financial institutions can use the need for money transfer services to access people and then give them other financial services.”

According to the FinScope Consumer Survey, released on Tuesday, more than 3.6 million Cambodians, or about a third of the adult population, are using mobile money services. Of these, 98 per cent use mobile money services to remit money, with just 4 per cent using it for transactions such as paying utility bills or buying airtime.

Paul Luchtenburg, an inclusive finance program specialist at the UN Capital Development Fund (UNCDF), one of the agencies behind the survey, said only a handful of financial institutions in Cambodia had ventured into mobile money services geared for the rural poor but costs would fall further as more joined.

“In three years, the landscape will be very different,” he predicted. “Then there will be a lot of [financial institutions] will doing it.”

Speaking to reporters on the forum’s sidelines, a representative of Wing (Cambodia) Specialized Bank said the growing use of mobile money transfers shows no signs of slowing.

Franchette Chingcuanco-Cardona, Wing’s product and marketing director, said the company’s 4,000 agents nationwide assist customers in sending or receiving remittances, providing an access code that is sent to the recipient’s mobile phone.

She said after comprehending the benefits and convenience of Wing’s money transfer service, unbanked customers often get more confidence to use other financial services.

“Educating is one thing, but if we are able to apply customers’ actual experiences, then they will become more familiar with the services and able to be easily understand them,” she said.

MOST VIEWED

  • Virus tops 84 with new cases in S’ville

    The Ministry of Health on Sunday night confirmed another 31 cases of coronavirus infections, bringing the Kingdom’s total to 84 and it highest daily tally. There have been no fatalities thus far. The latest cases were found in 29 French tourists and their two Cambodian tour guides

  • Two French tourists latest Covid-19 cases in Kingdom

    The Kingdom on Saturday saw two more cases of coronavirus infections, bringing the total to 53. While the majority of the previous cases are linked to a Muslim religious gathering in Malaysia, the latest cases involved two French tourists visiting Sihanoukville. The Ministry of Health said

  • Kingdom’s virus toll tops 84, Cambodians in Thailand rush home

    The Ministry of Health on Sunday night confirmed another 31 cases of coronavirus infections, bringing the Kingdom’s total to 84 and its highest daily tally. There have been no fatalities thus far. The latest cases were found in 29 French tourists and their two Cambodian tour guides

  • NBC calls for cashless payments

    The National Bank of Cambodia (NBC) has urged government ministries, financial institutions and the public to conduct cashless payments via electronic systems where possible to combat the spread of Covid-19. “To contribute to the prevention of Covid-19, the National Bank of Cambodia encourages financial institutions

  • CEO held for fraud in Siem Reap

    Over 200 individuals gathered in front of the Siem Reap Provincial Court last week to ask that Dim Suonnath, the CEO of a real estate company being held for fraud, take responsibility for compensating some 2,000 residents who invested with him. The request was denied. Suonnath responded

  • Ministry calls for home schooling

    Minister of Education, Youth and Sport, Hang Chuon Naron appealed to parents of students to provide home education in a proper environment and help them obtain more learning materials. The ministry also allowed schools to take a premature vacation after several people tested positive for