Cambodia and Thailand are working on a new electronic payment system based in QR codes that will allow citizens of one country to shop in the other using their own currency.
The project was announced earlier this week after a meeting in Bangkok between the director general of the National Bank of Cambodia, Chea Serey, and Chantavarn Sucharitakul, assistant governor of the Bank of Thailand.
“The use of the QR code system for payment will afford Cambodians with a bank account in riel a lot of advantages,” an NBC statement said. Among those advantages, the statement says Cambodian tourists will be able to purchase goods and pay for medical treatment in Thailand.
“The QR code system is convenient, fast, safe, and cheap. Cambodians will no longer have to be concerned about losing money when exchanging riel into Thai bath.
“They will no longer have to worry about not having enough bath in their pocket when visiting Thailand,” it said.
It is just the first step on a wider scheme to facilitate payments across both nations. Initially, the focus will be on “general payments”, particularly those made by tourists, NBC said.
Expansions of the programme will target migrant workers’ remittances, as well as cross-border trade payments and even investment, it added.
No specific details on the programme (such as the e-payment apps or mobile wallets that could be involved) were provided.
NBC’s Chea Serey told Khmer Times yesterday that this is another effort by the Central Bank to promote the use of the local currency, as well as to increase recognition of the riel abroad.
“As far as the timeline for the project is concerned, we hope to gain support from financial institutions in both countries, as well as define the rules and procedures of the system, within this year,” Ms Serey said. “It won’t be accessible to the public until next year.”
Lim Heng, vice president of the Cambodia Chamber of Commerce, was excited about the announcement, saying the planned e-payment system will particularly benefit businesspeople and investors, but also acknowledging the benefits to migrant workers, who will be able to send remittances back home more conveniently.
NBC said the payment system will encourage more Cambodians to open bank accounts in the local currency, as people will realize the multiple benefits within the country and abroad of banking in riel.
NBC is also working on establishing a direct exchange rate between the baht and the riel, which will follow the creation of a yuan-riel exchange rate last September.
This article was originally published in the Khmer Times.