The National Bank of Cambodia (NBC) on July 4 formally launched Cambodian Shared Switch (CSS), a chip-and-card inter-bank payment system, following a pilot run since October 2017.

CSS enables money transfers and withdrawals through participating financial institutions (PFI) and is viewed as an initiative to align the Kingdom’s payment landscape with regional and global technological development.

Speaking at the launch ceremony, NBC deputy governor Chea Serey noted that CSS would allow clients to make cross-institutional transactions using cards at ATMs and point-of-sale (POS) devices, as well as offer a “local switch” for regional payments. She did not elaborate on this last feature.

Over the past few years, electronic payments have increased significantly as financial institutions introduce more payment services and tools like mobile banking and payments, contactless payment and virtual cards, and QR code solutions, she said, adding that these are rising in popularity and demonstrating favourable trends for the national and global digital-economy shift.

“Development of the payment system is a top priority for the NBC, in order to … facilitate commercial transactions both locally and regionally. This will support economic recovery and advancement.

“CSS is another of NBC’s initiatives … [which will] enable users to execute a range of financial operations using payment cards at ATMs and POS devices, such as cash withdrawals, balance inquiries, printing summary reports, quick-payment services, and changing passwords,” she said, also mentioning that purchase reversals would be possible.

At the same event, Cambodia Microfinance Association (CMA) chairman Sok Voeun commented that new technologies are emerging at an accelerating rate, and that the NBC continuously works to modernise the Kingdom’s payment infrastructure and implement financial technology (fintech) solutions to improve security and efficiency.

“By expanding the scope of financial institutions’ operations, CSS is crucial for enhancing the financial sector as a whole,” he said, adding that there are “thousands” of ATMs nationwide operated by CSS PFIs.

NBC’s Serey shared that, to boost public confidence in the payment system and advance regional integration, the central bank has also prepared and fine-tuned regulations on payment service providers, the management of associated products and services, and related inspections.

These regulations are in line with national and international standards, as well as International Best Practices, she claimed.

“In order to help modernise Cambodia’s payment system, I encourage all banking and financial institutions to support and pay attention to the implementation of the various CSS policies as well as to further develop contactless features using the system,” she said.

Serey expressed hope that the CSS will promote transparency in electronic payments, efficiency in the use of financial resources, and the government’s digital-economy agenda, in addition to reducing the usage of physical currency.