Local publicly listed Acleda Bank Plc plans to expand cross-border payment services to two more ASEAN countries – Laos and Vietnam – following apparent success in Thailand.
Acleda president and group managing director In Channy told media recently that the bank aims to deliver the plan in the near future, along with other initiatives such as expanding its digital infrastructure to be more comprehensive and flexible, and meet the needs of the masses at all levels.
“We’ve refined our digital infrastructure to be flexible to all the public, both rural and urban. We will connect the infrastructure we have at hand to the region – we’ve already done so with Thailand.
“We will connect with the other two countries, [Laos and Vietnam], to bolster cross-border payments, which is our strategic plan, refine the infrastructure to be flexible and widely accessible to the masses at all levels and regions, which is an important consideration.
“We plan to link up with just the two countries for 2022, because there’s lots of work to be done. The project will start soon, right after the two central banks exchange an MoU [memorandum of understanding] on these payment projects,” added Channy.
National Bank of Cambodia (NBC) assistant governor and director-general Chea Serey has said technology development and competition in the financial sector provides opportunities for financial institutions (FI) to roll out tools and innovative payment services to the public.
However, a lack of interoperability across QR code-based payment solutions has rendered them less effective and convenient for consumers, she said.
To remedy the issue in a matter consistent with the government’s financial development strategy, the NBC promulgated a prakas on KHQR code specification for payments, dated June 26, 2020, she added.
On October 25, Acleda officially launch KHQR which is a universal quick response (QR) code system created for retail payments in the Kingdom and cross-border payments within the ASEAN bloc.
Users of Acleda Mobile can now scan KHQR codes generated by merchants via Bakong or other supported apps – and vice versa – for transactions in KHR and USD, Acleda.
Acleda’s Channy noted that hundreds of thousands of tourists used to travel between Cambodia and Thailand, until Covid slowed that down to a trickle.
“Cambodian launched scanning on Thai QR codes at the peak of the pandemic, but we’ve still settled around 4,135,313 Thai baht [$125,000] in 688 transactions, and we hope to have more transactions whenever Thailand opens up to new normal without any lockdowns.
“Currently we are implementing Thai scans for Cambodian QR codes, even if a bit slow on the Thai side, but we are moving. For the next stage, we plan for roll out remittances and proprietary card payments,” he said.