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Wing is banking the unbanked

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Jojo Malolos, CEO of Wing (Cambodia). Photo supplied

Wing is banking the unbanked

In rural Cambodia where cash is king and 75 percent of the population lack banking connectivity, according to the National Bank of Cambodia (NBC), Wing (Cambodia) Limited Specialised Bank has made its mark as the key institution that gives Cambodians living in the most remote areas the ability to access financial services.

Wing CEO Jojo Malolos said in a recent interview: “Wing has a very distinct role in improving the economy of Cambodia - not only the overall economy, but the countryside economy.”

With around 5,000 Wing branches in all 25 provinces, nearly every Cambodian can now pay their bills, receive money from relatives who work in the capital city, or deposit money into an account.

But Wing does a lot more than facilitate payments and provide a secure haven for people’s savings. Wing also helps give aspiring entrepreneurs living in rural areas access to much-needed capital.

“Wing has become a channel through which entrepreneurs and micro entrepreneurs who want to put up a business in the countryside, receive payment or reimbursement for a loan from an MFI goes through us,” Malolos said, adding that Wing already partners with more than 30 banks, MFIs, public institutions and private sector companies so Cambodians may access various required services.

Furthermore, as Wing obtained its specialised banking license in late 2014, the company can provide an enhanced suite of services to its customers.

“[The license] allows us now to focus on the diversity, the depth and breadth of our payment services,” Malolos said, noting that Wing now offers online payments as well as discounted merchant payments.

KFC is one such merchant partner that now accept payments via Wing for which buyers receive a 10 percent discount on their purchase and a 50 percent discount on Wednesdays. Many spas, hotels, and other restaurants offer similar promotions for Wing payments as well, according to Malolos. All consumers need to enjoy these benefits is the Wing Card that can be topped up and used like a debit card.

By providing the Wing Card services, the company also makes a great contribution towards improving financial literacy in Cambodia by helping Cambodian citizens get accustomed to the benefits of a cashless economy. However, using the card is not a must.

“You can have the options to use the money in your account to buy things or to withdraw everything or to send money to your relatives who also have Wing accounts,” Malolos explained.

Of course, Cambodia is still very much a cash economy and entrusting banks with their savings is still a novelty for many Cambodians. However, Malolos believes that Wing is on the way to reaching critical mass, showing that the country is headed in the right direction when it comes to making use of the advanced payment and savings methods.

“We have about three million customers doing transactions at the agents, processing roughly 60 million transactions a year,” Malolos said.

“Moving fast and providing a good breadth and depth of payment services is our strategy.”

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