Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Mobile payment apps dethroning cash



Mobile payment apps dethroning cash

A photo illustration of several popular mobile money apps. Tim Borith
A photo illustration of several popular mobile money apps. Tim Borith

Mobile payment apps dethroning cash

At an outlet of Tous les Jours bakery, Heng Souny approaches the cashier with a tray of baked goods and her smartphone in hand. Instead of reaching into her purse for cash, the 25-year-old real estate agent scans the QR code on the cashier’s point-of-sale terminal and enters her PIN number to pay for the goods using Pi Pay.

Souny said she initially tried the digital payment smartphone app because of the generous discounts – initially as much as 50 percent – offered by merchants. Those discounts have decreased as the app gains traction, but the speed and convenience of using digital cash has kept her hooked.

“I use it often because I think this payment method is faster and more convenient than using cash,” she said. “Now, every time I buy something or eat at a restaurant, I always ask the cashier if they use Pi Pay as a payment platform.”

Souny is one of tens of thousands of Cambodians using their smartphones not just to make calls and browse the internet, but also to pay for the goods and services they purchase on a regular basis. While the Kingdom is a staunch cash-based society, mobile payment platforms are quickly gaining traction and providing a new channel to promote financial inclusion.

Tomas Pokorny, CEO of Pi Pay, said thousands of merchants in Phnom Penh, Siem Reap and Sihanoukville have joined the Pi Pay network and the app has been downloaded over 210,000 times since its launch in July 2017. The mobile payment platform has processed 2.6 million individual transactions valued at over $51 million to date.

While Cambodian commerce has traditionally been dominated by cash transactions, Pokorny said he sees an increasing willingness, especially among young and tech-savvy Cambodians, to embrace technology that puts the security and convenience of cashless transactions at their fingertips.

“Throughout the development of the app and the Pi Pay platform, we heard a lot about how hard it would be to launch a cashless payment app in a ‘cash’ culture like Cambodia,” he said. “But the results show that we were right to persevere and Cambodians are more than ready to adopt new ways of paying for goods and services or transferring money using a secure technology.”

Pi Pay has taken a lead among mobile payment services, but it is certainly not alone. Other local apps are vying for a share of the growing mobile payment market, including DaraPay, Bongluy, GrabPay and Smartluy. In addition, several banks have rolled out their own payment platforms, either as standalone apps or part of their online banking platforms.

And now Matchmove Pay, a Singapore-based fintech firm that provides enterprise payment solutions, is looking to expand its Asian footprint and enter the Cambodian market.

Nitin Palande, senior vice president of MatchMove Pay, said the company is working closely with stakeholders in Cambodia as it prepares to make a foray into the Kingdom and wage a “war on cash”.

“With smartphone penetration of 48 percent, internet penetration 32 percent, and with a 22 percent banked population, Cambodia presents the right opportunities for us to make our timely entry and offers a huge opportunity to digitise payments,” he said.

Palande said Matchmove’s entrance into the market would focus on offering scalable payments solutions that address “the pain points” of verticals with high growth such as retail, e-commerce, micro-lending, travel and tourism and logistics.

Matchmove’s core product is an e-wallet app that allows consumers, including those who do not own credit cards or online banking facilities, to make payments with a pre-paid credit card. It also provides enterprise solutions that allow companies to offer their own fully branded and secure mobile wallets.

“Retail and e-commerce companies in Cambodia could [use Matchmove’s platform to] enable their customers to pay with their own branded cards, in-store or online, gain insights into customer spend analytics, increase their brand and retention,” he explained.

MOST VIEWED

  • Phnom Penh placed in two-week lockdown

    The government has decided to place Phnom Penh in lockdown for two weeks, effective April 14 midnight through April 28, as Cambodia continues to grapple with the ongoing community outbreak of Covid-19, which has seen no sign of subsiding. According to a directive signed by Prime Minister

  • Cambodia on the verge of national tragedy, WHO warns

    The World Health Organisation (WHO) in Cambodia warned that the country had reached another critical point amid a sudden, huge surge in community transmission cases and deaths. “We stand on the brink of a national tragedy because of Covid-19. Despite our best efforts, we are

  • Hun Sen: Stay where you are, or else

    Prime Minister Hun Sen warned that the two-week lockdown of Phnom Penh and adjacent Kandal provincial town Takmao could be extended if people are not cooperative by staying home. “Now let me make this clear: stay in your home, village, and district and remain where

  • Businesses in capital told to get travel permit amid lockdown through One Window Service

    The Phnom Penh Municipal Administration has issued guidelines on how to get travel permission for priority groups during the lockdown of Phnom Penh, directing private institutions to apply through the municipality's One Window Service and limit their staff to a mere two per cent. In

  • Vaccination open to foreigners in Cambodia

    The Ministry of Health on April 8 issued an announcement on Covid-19 vaccination for foreigners residing and working in Cambodia, directing the Ministry of Labour and Vocational Training and local authorities to register them. Health minister Mam Bun Heng, who is also head of the inter-ministerial

  • Ministry names types of business permitted amid lockdown

    The Ministry of Labour and Vocational Training singled out 11 types of business that are permitted to operate during the lockdown of Phnom Penh and Takmao town, which run through April 28. Those include (1) food-processing enterprises and slaughterhouses; (2) providers of public services such as firefighting, utility and