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 to reduce the use and issuance of cheques for cash settlements and payments by utilising electronic payment systems where possible,” it said late last week.

Prasac executive vice-president Say Sony said his institution has already put systems in place that allow clients to conduct electronic transactions. “Our clients can electronically transfer up to $100,000.

“Many merchants are using this method of payment with other Prasac account holding clients.

“There are other payment systems in place such as fast payment, central shared switch and the Bakong System initiative by NBC to enable clients and the public to carry out transactions across banks without using physical cash.

“We encourage our clients that use online platforms such as mobile banking, internet banking and all NBC systems to maximise social distancing and minimise the spread of Covid-19,” he said.

Last year, Visa Inc’s 2018 Visa Consumer Payment Attitudes Study noted the rapid rate at which Cambodians are embracing digital payments.

In 2017, it said, the number of digital purchases made using Visa cards grew 58 per cent from 2016, with the total value rising 43 per cent.

“Seventy-nine per cent in the study said electronic payments were likely to be used in supermarkets within the next seven years. Sixty-one per cent said the same for large shopping malls and 49 per cent for retail chains and convenience stores.

“Some 24 per cent expressed their interest in mobile payments and roughly one third in contactless payments,” it reported.