The Cambodian riel accounted for about 17 percent of total currency circulation last year, a number similar to previous years, but central bank officials said they remained optimistic that use of the local currency will grow in the future.
Speaking to reporters yesterday at an event in Phnom Penh celebrating the 38th anniversary of the re-introduction of riel as the national currency, National Bank of Cambodia (NBC) Director General Chea Serey said that despite the US dollar dominating Cambodia’s currency market, the results of an internal consumer survey pointed to shifting attitudes toward the use of riel.
“I am optimistic that the circulation of Khmer riel will be better thanks to the change of consumer attitude,” she said. “We have observed that our Cambodian people have increased their willingness to use the national currency.”
Serey said that a study conducted by the Japanese International Cooperation Agency in 2014 found that Cambodian youths preferred to use Khmer riel rather than US dollars, and that preference strengthened in a more recently conducted study. Serey attributed that growing preference to the youths' "national pride".
“The priority now is that we need to transform the change of consumers’ attitude to the real practice for better results,” she said.
The central bank has also passed regulations to promote riel usage, including requiring all commercial banks and microfinance institutions to hold at least 10 percent of their loan portfolios in riel by the end of next year.