The National Bank of Cambodia (NBC) last week held the soft-launch for its new inter-bank transfer system that will allow customers to transfer money between participating financial institutions using payment cards at ATMs and point-of-sale (POS) machines.
Known as Cambodian Shared Switch, or CSS, the new system is a collaboration between three local financial institutions: ACLEDA Bank, Sathapana Bank and Prasac Microfinance. CSS enables customers to execute a range of financial operations, including payment for goods and services, cash withdrawals, inter-bank fund transfers, balance inquiries, as well as accessing financial statements.
According to the national bank, the new system aims to modernise the payment system, reduce cash circulation in the market, enhance the efficiency of payment services and promote inter-bank transactions by providing customers with additional channels. The bank also says CSS will allow much faster and convenient inter-bank transactions.
In line with the government’s goal of increasing financial inclusion, the network of ATM and POS devices will be extended as a result of implementing the new system, which will particularly benefit customers in rural areas. “Customers will have access to our network of 300 ATMs nationwide using payment cards from other banks or microfinance institutions,” said So Phonnary, the executive vice-president of ACLEDA Bank. “With this type of integration, consumers will enjoy much better access to cash,” she added.
Phonnary says she expects many more players to join the system in the upcoming months. She also explained that customers will be charged a small service fee for transferring funds using CSS.
NBC governor Chea Chanto, speaking during the 38th anniversary of the re-establishment of NBC earlier this month, said NBC has been modernising the payment system to reduce operational costs and make transactions faster and more secure. Chanto said the banking sector in Cambodia has grown tremendously since NBC was reinstated in 1979. For the past 16 years, banking assets in the country have increased by more than $32 billion, or 41 times.
The total loan portfolio of the banking sector as a whole rose 93 times during the past 16 years to reach $18.8 billion today, while deposits grew 52 times and now stand at $16.3 billion. The national bank governor also said the NBC will continue to strengthen the regulatory framework to improve CSS and will work on linking it with similar regional and global inter-bank transfer systems.
Cambodia now has 39 commercial banks, 15 specialised banks, seven microfinance deposit institutions and 66 licensed MFIs, as well as 2,431 money changers and 12 financial leasing companies.