E-payment trends in Cambodia have significantly consolidated in recent years as more and more people transition from cash-based to digital transaction options, the National Bank of Cambodia (NBC) reaffirmed in a recent report.

By end-2022, “the number of registered e-wallet account[s] increased to 19.5 million and the total number of transactions jumped from 708 million to one billion with a total amount of $272.8 billion (increased by 34 per cent), approximately nine times the gross domestic product (GDP)”, the central bank said in its Annual Supervision Report 2022.

Although not mentioned explicitly, it appears that these comparisons are year-on-year, which would mean that the corresponding transaction volume figure for end-2021 fell in the range of $202.788-204.383 billion, accounting for rounding.

“By the end of 2022, 35 payment service institutions (PSIs) have been licensed and two BFIs [banking and financial institutions] have been authorised to operate payment business.

“Generally, the products and services offered by these institutions are in the form of digital payments that can be operated through mobile applications or at various payment agents and other networks.

“The use of financial technology [fintech] integrated into payment services is a factor for enhancing financial inclusion, promoting competition, fostering innovation, and improving public confidence in using payment services.

“BFIs offered internet banking and mobile banking services and issued 12.3 million payment cards in total. Fund management of PSIs and BFIs providing payment services is in good condition since those institutions have been able to maintain higher balance in the trust account than the total balance of the issued e-wallets,” the report said.

NBC governor Chea Chanto commented in the report that the central bank has been working to promote and foster development in the fintech ecosystem to modernise the Kingdom’s digital payment infrastructure and to stay abreast of contemporary trends.

The NBC introduced the KHQR Code standard to “accelerate” QR Code-based transactions as part of its broader agenda to modernise and bolster payment systems and related infrastructure, he said.

“Moreover, cross border payment[s] ha[ve] also been further enhanced with neighbouring countries to make payments more secure and effective, as well as to reduce operating costs and promote financial inclusion,” Chanto said.

Cambodia Post Bank Plc (CPBank) CEO Toch Chaochek told The Post that the digital payments trend has been developing over the past few years, having gained momentum on Covid-19 tailwinds as many turned to online platforms to order meals, goods and services.

“Since Covid-19, we’ve witnessed that more and more people are using digital payments in their daily lives, while many financial institutions have been improving their digital payment systems.

“This has also improved financial literacy and inclusion in Cambodia,” he said, sharing that more than 200,000 e-wallet accounts have been registered under CPBank to-date.

The NBC report also highlighted some of the many recent initiatives to improve cross-border payment mechanisms and schemes with surrounding countries.

“After a successful cooperation with the Bank of Thailand, the NBC has been working with the Bank of [the] Lao PDR and the State Bank of Vietnam to connect with payment systems of the countries, aiming at making cross-border payment more convenient, faster, safer, and inclusive,” it said.