The deputy General Manager of the CIMB Bank in Cambodia says competition is what brought interest rates down over the years in Cambodia.
CIMB Bank started in Malaysia and is now spread across the entire group of 10 ASEAN nations.
Deputy General Manager Bun Yin, who worked at Campu Bank for the last 18 years and is now using some of those same skills for CIMB Bank, said competition is what’s important for growth in Cambodia.
“From the day Cambodia started to open the market in 1992 interest rates of 18 to 24 per cent were being charged. Right now banks are only charging 8 to 12 per cent. What’s the reason? Competition,” he said.
For someone who survived the fanatical communism of the Pol Pot regime, Bun Yin maintains that competition is a healthy force for Cambodia in all sectors, including banking.
Born in Phnom Penh in 1956, Bun Yin survived most of the Khmer Rouge period in Kratie, farming rice and cutting bamboo.
“Kratie was a lucky place to be.”
Today Bun Yin has three children. His eldest son runs an Asian restaurant in the United States. His second son is a lawyer in Phnom Penh and he has a daughter who runs her own hospitality business, as well as five grandchildren.
Bun Yin started out in 1981 under the communist leadership at what was then called The Phnom Penh Municipality Bank.
Later, he joined Campu Bank and served all the way from 1992 until 2010, doing all kinds of things as a local Cambodian working for a Malaysian-owned bank.
“I was one of the pioneers and I did all kinds of things,” he said.
Following18 years at Campu Bank, he joined CIMB in July 2010. By November, 2010, CIMB Bank had opened. Today, CIMB Bank in Cambodia has seven branches, five in Phnom Penh, one in Sihanoukville and one in Siem Reap.
“We are going to open four more branches by the end of the year,” he said.
Bun Yin describes CIMB Bank as a bank set up to serve the whole ASEAN region.
“We are one of the larger banks in ASEAN in terms of the network. We have more than 300 branches in Malaysia, two branches in Singapore, 600-plus branches in Indonesia, more than 150 in Thailand, seven in Cambodia and right now we have purchased a bank in the Philippines and we are going to open in Vietnam, as well as a representative office in Myanmar and a branch in Laos under CIMB Bank Thailand.
“You can see our footprint in almost all the countries in ASEAN. That’s why we are so important as a regional bank. Right now in Europe and the US, they all are facing an economic crisis. That’s why it is very important to have a regional bank. We can channel the 600 million population of Southeast Asia and we can service the people better,” he said.
In terms of differentiation from other banks, Bun Yin says the products are similar, but one difference is the dual-currency investment.
According to the dual-currency investment, a customer can earn up to 30 per cent per year in an alternative currency such as the Australian dollar or the Thai Baht. Capitalizing on fluctuations between currencies, US dollars can be paired with seven other currencies. Customers are able to pair their money to another currency choose the interest rate. More information can be found at www.cimbbank.com.kh.
“Our customers can earn a better yield as opposed to a normal fixed deposit,” he said.
By October, CIMB Bank will have a regional ATM link enabling customers to draw funds from any ATM in the region.
Bun Yin believes the government is leading the country in the right direction. Even though he’s not a university graduate and learned his profession on the job, he’s confident in the fundamentals of banking.
“I understand the fundamentals and principles of banking and how to build up my own team. In Siem Reap, I try to build up my own team, so one day when I retire, the people in place will not only be successful for the bank, but successful for a new generation of Cambodians,” he said.
Bun Yin says the National Bank of Cambodia has done good homework and, issuing the right laws under which commercial banks can operate.
“I must say that we are on the right track. You can see that bank deposits from year to year keep growing up in Cambodia. Loans are also growing year to year,” he said.
Bun Yin describes Cambodia as a unique society in the world that is friendly to foreign direct investment and that ASEAN membership will ultimately benefit Cambodia.
“Even though Cambodia might not have sufficient infrastructure, people come to Cambodia because we do have friendly investment law. I feel that ASEAN will definitely benefit Cambodia.”
Bun Yin says Cambodians are capable of handling complicated banking products and isn’t worried about being swamped by other more skilled ASEAN countries.
“We have very complicated products handled by our local people. The people running it are Cambodians. I don’t think we will lose out on benefits to other countries. For ASEAN we become a member of a big family and we can learn from other societies as well. So we are looking with optimism at the future.”
Bun Yin says when you look at the positive side of things, you can make them work.