OFFICIALS at the National Bank of Cambodia (NBC) said Tuesday, at a conference in Phnom Penh, that Cambodia was in the process of transforming its electronic payment system across the country, but that the process would be delayed by a few more years.
NBC officials said they were using an interim solution: Clearing houses – branches of the central bank at the provincial level – were processing payments separately.
Srey Siyout, director of the NBC’s Exchange Management Department, told the Post that currently, payments by cheque can be cleared in only three provinces: Phnom Penh, Siem Reap and Preah Sihanouk.
Also, cheques can only be cleared nearest the province where they are issued.
For example, a cheque issued in Battambang to a person in Koh Kong province requires the Koh Kong client to bring the payment to the Siem Reap NBC branch to clear, said Srey Siyout.
Improvements to this system so cheques could be cleared anywhere were scheduled to be completed by the end of this year, according to a payment system “roadmap”, she added, but NBC Director General Tal Nay Im said Tuesday that the upgrade had been delayed.
“We are now developing [the system].... We hope in the next few years we will have a full payment system,” she told the Post on the sidelines of the Banking Cambodia International 2010 conference at Phnom Penh’s Naga World hotel and casino.
She added that the development of the full system would add security to Cambodia’s overall banking system, in that cheques – which are more secure than cash – could be exchanged more easily.
Under the new system Phnom Penh would house the central clearing house for the NBC, said Srey Siyout.
The NBC is preparing the tender process for the final phase, she added, but she said she did not know which companies would bid.
As part of the process of developing Cambodia’s checking capabilities, the government, in mid-2009, standardised the appearance of the Kingdom’s cheques.
As part of the development of the new payment system, the government is drafting a National Payment System Law, a prakas, or edict, on third-party processors and a prakas on credit remittances, according to a presentation by Srey Siyout at Tuesday’s event.