Local fintech firm True Money (Cambodia) Plc (TrueMoney) reported a 109 per cent rise in the number of new customer accounts in 2021 versus a year earlier, which it attributes to long-term behavioural shifts driven by Covid-19-related restrictions.

“Total transactions grew by almost one million in 2021 compared to those in 2020 … [while] customer transactions increased approximately by 40 per cent in the same period,” TrueMoney said in a statement.

TrueMoney chief strategy officer Khuon Frandara hopes that 2021’s growth will extend into this year as more Cambodians look for the simplest and most convenient methods to make cashless financial transactions.

“There is no doubt that the pandemic has obviously helped the drive to more digital transactions,” she said in the statement.

“However, we must also remember that having more than 10,000 agents nationwide has also meant that, during lockdowns and travel restrictions, people were also able to continue paying their bills and meeting their financial commitments even though they were unable to travel extensively to do so.”

She added: “During 2021, TrueMoney was able to help a number of financial institutions provide continuity of service to their customers throughout the Kingdom of Cambodia through tie-ups and partnerships.”

Frandara looks forward to an uptick in partnerships between financial institutions this year as traditional banks turn to firms with more advanced technological capabilities that also have an established customer base. This increase could lead to a spurt in consolidations and mergers, she said.

“It is at times like these that financial institutions see the value of having reliable and dependable online technology as well as an extensive network throughout Cambodia,” she added.

The statement went on to say: “Since establishing the company’s operations in Cambodia in 2016, TrueMoney has created the largest fintech agent network in the country with more than 10,000 agents offering financial-related services to the unbanked and underbanked segments of society.”

In October 2020, National Bank of Cambodia launched an inter-bank mobile payment platform, known as the “Bakong System”, aiming to give a powerful impetus to rural financial sector development and nurturing financial inclusivity in the Kingdom.

The NBC has partnered with local banks to operate Bakong and boost adoption, leading the currency to reach 7.9 million Cambodians by November – close to half of the Kingdom’s estimated 16 million population – directly or through apps offered by partner lenders, according to Nikkei Asia.

Since its inception, about 6.8 million transactions had been made through Bakong as of November, clocking in at around $2.9 billion, the news outlet reported.