GLN International Inc, a subsidiary of South Korea’s KEB Hana Bank, and locally-owned ACLEDA Bank Plc have announced the roll-out of a cross-border QR (Quick Response) code payment system in Cambodia through the former’s flagship Global Loyalty Network (GLN).

The Seoul-based firm bills GLN as “a global integrated platform that offers cross-border use of digital assets and benefits around the world”.

The system “will enable the digital wallet users in GLN’s network from [South] Korea and all around the world to pay for goods and services in Cambodia through their domestic mobile wallets by presenting their QR codes to be scanned at POS [point-of-sale] terminals”, the two companies said in a joint press release dated June 20.

Speaking at the launch, GLN International CEO Kim Kyung-ho stressed that the introduction of GLN’s services to the Kingdom “adds value to our current network”, which he said covers Hong Kong, Japan, Laos, Singapore, South Korea, Taiwan, Thailand, the US and Vietnam.

“Enabling tourists visiting Cambodia to pay at merchants with their domestic wallets contributes to seamless travel experience, reduces cost of payment, and boosts digitalisation of payments in Cambodia.

“Thanks to the support of National Bank of Cambodia, together with our strategic partner, ACLEDA Bank Plc in Cambodia, we are glad to set another important milestone in the transformation of cross-border digital payments.

“Further on, we look forward to expanding the scope of our partnership through integrating QR ATM cash withdrawal service, cross-border digital remittance service and Cambodia outbound payments which will enable Cambodians to pay overseas with Cambodian digital wallets,” the press release quoted him as saying.

ACLEDA president and group managing director In Channy expressed optimism that the partnership would spur development in the cross-border payments domain, making it easier for travellers to Cambodia to pay at ACLEDA merchants.

“We are delighted to be strategic partners with [GLN International], which empowers global tourists with cross-border financial services through its global network of digital wallets.

“With this successful cooperation, users of mobile wallets in GLN network will be able to make cross border payments at ACLEDA Merchants across Cambodia more conveniently, faster, safer and inclusively,” he said.

On April 16, Minister of Labour and Vocational Training Ith Samheng reported that the “more than 60,000” Cambodians employed in South Korea send home an average of $500-600 million dollars each year.

On May 14, the minister revealed that, at present, about 1.3 million Cambodian workers send their families nearly $3 billion in remittances each year. For comparison, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) estimates the Kingdom’s 2022 nominal GDP (gross domestic product) at $28.544 billion.

On June 6, the National Bank of Cambodia (NBC) and Bank of Thailand (BoT) formally rolled out Phase II of the cross-border QR (Quick Response) code payment system, 1,204 days after the launch of the first phase on February 18, 2020.

The system currently enables KHQR payments to 7.6 million merchants in Thailand and ThaiQR payments to 1.5 million merchants in Cambodia, according to a statement posted on NBC deputy governor Chea Serey’s official Facebook page on June 6. KHQR and ThaiQR are universal QR code standards for retail payments in Cambodia and Thailand, respectively.

Meanwhile, the central bank reaffirmed in its Annual Supervision Report 2022 that e-payment trends in Cambodia have greatly consolidated in recent years as more and more people switched from cash-based to digital transaction options.

By end-2022, “the number of registered e-wallet account[s] increased to 19.5 million and the total number of transactions jumped from 708 million to one billion with a total amount of $272.8 billion (increased by 34 per cent), approximately nine times the [GDP]”, the report said.