With the rise of fintech (financial technology) startups and peer-to-peer lending models, Cambodia’s financial industry is transforming quickly to accommodate a new generation of mobile customers and to play a bigger role in the banking sector, industry insiders noted during an event held last week at the Sofitel Phnom Penh Phokeethra.
During Inspire ASEAN, which took place last Friday, fintech experts shed light on how the industry is adapting to meet changing consumer demands and discussed the latest trends in the industry, such as digital wallets, big data, blockchain technology and alternative lending models.
Fintech remains a hot topic across the world, including Cambodia, as it continues to attract foreign investors, SMEs and multinational corporations, said Vincent Ling, deputy general manager at UnionPay International Southeast Asia. The term fintech is relatively new and the concept is still largely unexplored by the Cambodian financial industry, but is growing rapidly in popularity, he added.
“As fintech gains more traction and attention, financial institutions are looking closer at the opportunities and trends within the sector,” said Ling. “The regulators are also trying to understand more about the new players disrupting the market and shifting paradigms.”
Thomas Pokorny, the CEO of PiPay, a Cambodia-based fintech company that combines payment and lifestyle application solutions, said the fintech sector in the country is now ready to welcome more investment and expand, but more has to be done to educate people to embrace the new technologies.
“The fintech sector is ready, but one of the biggest challenges remains educating people to encourage them to transition from cash payments to cashless wallets,” said Pokorny. “It will take a few months, or perhaps years. Step by step, people will adopt the new technologies.”
Sim Chankiriroth, the CEO of Banhji, echoed Pokorny’s remarks over the development of Cambodia’s fintech sector, but said the relatively small size of the market remains the biggest deterrent for prospective investors. “The market is still small and the fintech sector in the country is not strong when it comes to innovation. The key lies in replicating models that have proved successful in other countries,” he said. “If done the right way, Cambodia still has an opportunity to become competitive within the region.”