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NBC launches Bakong inter-bank platform

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The National Bank of Cambodia (NBC) on Tuesday launched an inter-bank mobile payment platform, known as the “Bakong System”. Hean Rangsey

NBC launches Bakong inter-bank platform

The National Bank of Cambodia (NBC) on Tuesday launched an inter-bank mobile payment platform, known as the “Bakong System”, aiming to give a powerful impetus to rural financial sector development and nurturing financial inclusivity in the Kingdom, director-general Chea Serey said.

Speaking at the launch ceremony, Serey said the NBC-initiated Bakong enables interoperability between banks and financial institutions that is safe and cost-effective.

She attributed the watershed achievement to NBC governor Chea Chanto, noting that it was his stewardship that made development of the core payment system’s infrastructure possible.

Heralding the system as a “backbone payment system”, Serey listed its primary objectives as – enabling payments between banks and financial institutions, improving the efficiency and safety of the payment system, boosting financial inclusion and promoting cashless payments in the local currency.

At the same time, she said the system will champion economic development and help design an adaptive digital economy ecosystem as the foundation for the Kingdom’s participation in Industry 4.0 consistent with the ASEAN digital integration framework.

Bakong will modernise the payment system in the Kingdom in response to global economic and financial technological advances, she added.

“I hope the official launch of the Bakong System today will help promote social welfare and also prevent the spread of [Covid-19] by providing seamless e-payments from person to person.

“Online payments can also be made through Bakong System, which also offers alternative options for … transactions such as deposits, withdrawals, sending and receiving [via] e-wallet,” Serey said.

In response to rising concerns domestically and internationally, Serey stressed that Bakong is not a Central Bank Digital Currency.

Speaking at the ceremony, Association of Banks in Cambodia (ABC) president In Channy pointed out the significant strides made in payment services over the past decade.

He said the NBC’s e-payment drive strengthens the Kingdom’s position to use the latest mobile technologies and capture a slice of the growing financial market.

“The Bakong System will provide brand-new perks for payment systems that enable the public to make mobile financial transactions from bank-to-bank or from one payment provider to another in Cambodia,” Channy said.

At the same event, Cambodia Microfinance Association chairman Kea Borann said Bakong will presumably lead to less use of the greenback, which he said is a common goal between the NBC and the government.

“I believe that Cambodia is the first country in which the central bank has adopted blockchain technology to settle payments in the financial sector.

“The Bakong System will benefit member microfinance institutions [MFIs] as well as the general public by providing easy access to payments and safe and quick cash transfers across MFIs.”

To date, the number of participants in the system stands at 18, 16 of which are banking or financial institutions and two are payment service providers, Serey said.

At the same time, she said, 24 additional institutions have been granted membership in principle and are preparing to review the technicalities involved in connecting to the system.

“I would like to encourage all member institutions to continue to provide services to customers in a professional and responsible manner, and also contribute to the wide-scale promotion of the Bakong System to the public in order to take part in modernising the payment system in Cambodia,” Serey said.

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