Peer-to-peer (P2P) lending marketplace Rai Capital (Cambodia) Co Ltd on November 26 announced its official launch in the Kingdom.

It said it is designed for micro-entrepreneurs and individuals to promote financial inclusion in the Kingdom and enable flexible local financing solutions for local businesses and small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), providing them with smoother access to credit and investment.

Licensed and regulated by the Securities and Exchange Commission of Cambodia (SECC), Rai Capital noted that it is a joint venture with Singapore-based Goldbell Financial Services Pte Ltd.

It said: “Recognising the emerging gap in the lending market for proper and convenient access to financing in Cambodia, fintech veterans Eddie Lee Kee Phang, co-founder and CEO, and Alex Chua Buan Pong, co-founder, founded Rai Capital in 2018.

“Accessible via a mobile app, the Rai Capital platform eliminates the need for borrowers to travel long distances they previously had to, in order to obtain financing from the banks or financial institutions.

“Being a marketplace platform, Rai Capital is able to onboard suitable investors around the region such as accredited or corporate investors and financial institutions outside of Cambodia.”

Speaking at the launch, CEO Lee said: “We founded the company seeing the opportunity to plug into the financing gap in Cambodia.

“We noticed the lack of financial inclusion due to the scarcity of financiers, a huge pool of SMEs and micro SMEs who are unable to tap the support offered by banks or financial institutions, as well as the physical barriers borrowers face when obtaining financing – having to take hours or up to a day to travel from rural areas to the city-state, just to spend a few more weeks waiting for the loan application to be approved.

“Rai Capital was born out of seeing that struggle. Over the years, Singapore has taken the lead in becoming the hub for innovative fintech technologies. We are playing our part to take fintech into ASEAN starting with Cambodia.”

Micro, small and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs) account for 99 per cent of total businesses in the Kingdom, most of which are micro-enterprises with less than 10 employees, Rai Capital said citing UNESCAP.

While P2P lending and other alternatives to traditional financing are not entirely new notions in ASEAN, Rai Capital noted that the Kingdom still has a gap to fill for such services, with 66 per cent of MSMEs facing challenges in access to working capital, as reported by UNESCAP in “MSMEs Access to Finance in Cambodia” on January 31, 2019.

One of the potential platform investors of Rai Capital, Alicia Lim, director of Cambodia-based Himawari Hotel Apartments, said the firm is “setting out to build the modern-age, crowd-lending platform for small enterprises in Cambodia.

“We believe that the innovation will bring excitement to the local lending market. With Rai Capital leveraging on technology and reducing the geographical barrier, I believe many of our existing suppliers will stand to gain from a platform like this,” she said.

Rai Capital said it is currently in talks with local payment providers in the Kingdom and is seeking potential partners.

It was registered at the Ministry of Commerce on August 30, 2019 and is based out of the Exchange Square shopping centre in Daun Penh district’s Wat Phnom commune in the capital.