The NBC Bakong app has seen a meteoric rise in users, especially since the tail-end of 2021. More than 8.5 million users have now been confirmed by the National Bank of Cambodia. At the start of 2023, the banking app had nearly reached 8 million users (the population of Cambodia is estimated at around 16.8 million).
Since then, Bakong has been an Awards for Excellence winner of the 2021 Nikkei Superior Products and Services Awards – and with the added features and rise in cashless payments in the Kingdom, Bakong continues to see significant user growth.
NBC assistant governor Chea Serey said in February 2023 that more than 8 million active users were using Bakong e-wallet with less than half a million indirect users.
Based on previously published reports the growth of the users on Bakong can be seen as:
- Launched – October 2020
- End of 2020 – 45,000 users
- December 2021 – 288,000 users
- July 2022 – 445,000 users
- November 2022 – 7.9 million users
- February 2023 – 8.5 million users
Accounting for all types of e-wallets, the National Bank of Cambodia said the number in the Kingdom had reached 17.9 million by the end of 2022.
Value of Bakong Transactions
Based on previous reports, the increasing value of transactions on the Bakong app are:
- 2021 – 8.16 million transactions (80% in USD) with a USD transaction volume of USD $2.89 billion.
- Launch (Oct 2020) – July 31, 2022 – 445,000 users and 12.7 million transactions valued at USD $7.2 billion in total over this period. The growth between 2020 and 2021 was 8,200% according to the PROFITENCE “E-commerce 2022 Report”.
- September 2022 – 500,000 customers made transactions worth USD $1.2 billion in this month alone.
The launch of the standardised KHQR code system also helped to facilitate cross-bank payments via the Bakong system, while the implementation (Thailand &Malaysia) and increased promise of more cross-border payment transactions will only help the continued growth of Bakong- while maintaining low costs.
The PROFITENCE “E-commerce 2022 Report” reports suggesting QR code usage in Cambodia grew to 4.4 million transactions worth approximately USD 233 million by 2021 (it will have grown substantially since then).
Visa’s Consumer Payment Attitudes 2021 study reported that QR payment and card swipe/inserts outpaced other cashless categories both in annual growth and market penetration in the Kingdom.
Track COVID-19 Vaccinations on Bakong
The Bakong app was announced this month to also be able to track official COVID-19 vaccinations following the Ministry of Health and the NBC enabling a link within the app to allow individuals to look up their vaccine information.
Serey said that users who are already registered with the Bakong system using their full national identification card information can quickly find information about their Covid-19 vaccination history without needing to carry around their vaccination card adding that the app “is not just for payment, customers can use it for health monitoring.”
Bakong Success To Be Emulated in Laos
Japanese financial software firm Soramitsu, which developed the Banking app with the NBC, announced in February 2023 that they had signed an MoU with the Bank of the Lao People’s Democratic Republic Payment Systems Department to launch a proof-of-concept project for a Laotian central bank digital currency (CBDC) using a digital form of the Lao kip, called the DLak.
According to Nikkei Asia, around 70% of Laotians do not have bank accounts but the project hopes to increase financial literacy and cashless payments and this partnership is based off the back of the successful implementation of the Bakong app in Cambodia.