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Riel fund transfers to expand under FAST system

The National Bank of Cambodia's new FAST system facilitates interbank transfers of Cambodian riel.
The National Bank of Cambodia's new FAST system facilitates interbank transfers of Cambodian riel. Heng Chivoan

Riel fund transfers to expand under FAST system

Two weeks since the central bank launched its FAST system, which provides instant riel-denominated fund transfers between banking institutions, operations are running smoothly, with usage of the new electronic payment system expected to pick up as it integrates more customers.

Chea Serey, director-general of the National Bank of Cambodia (NBC), said yesterday that the rollout of the Fast and Secure Transfer (FAST) system on April 22 was just a soft launch, and “by nature, the number of transactions was very small during the initial stage of operation”.

During this period, the system “would only use the accounts of the staff of the member institutions, and then gradually move to the accounts of selected customers”, she explained. “Eventually, [the system] will open to all customers.”

Five lending institutions are participating in this initial stage of operations. They include two commercial banks – Acleda Bank and Cambodia Public Bank – and three deposit-taking microfinance institutions (MFIs) – Prasac, AMK and VisionFund.

“The participation of these institutions is based on their readiness in terms of system development and integration, while another 11 institutions are expected to complete their integration process by June 2016,” Serey said.

The FAST system, which operates only in riel, allows customers to transfer funds across banks and deposit-taking MFIs. The funds can be used in various ways, such as to pay bills, send remittances, cover online payments or pay tax.

The new riel-based payment system is expected to lower transaction fees and curb the high rate of dollarisation. Additionally, banks and deposit-taking MFIs could incorporate the FAST system into online and mobile banking, and even within ATM networks, Serey added.

Sim Senacheert, CEO of Prasac Microfinance, one of the system’s users, said the lending institution still had a few more hurdles to clear before it could fully implement the FAST system.

“We haven’t fully started using the system, as we are in the preparation stage,” he said, adding that a few technical details had to be sorted out.

“We believe this is a good initiative by the NBC, especially to encourage transfers between banks,” Senacheert said.

“Right now, it is difficult for family members to transfer money between different MFIs across the country. Once this is fully operational, it will encourage a lot more people to use banks.”

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