The leasing sector is seeing explosive growth in Cambodia with the emergence of new services that allow consumers to purchase motorbikes, cars, and other household appliances.
According to the annual supervisory report released by the National Bank of Cambodia (NBC) last week, revenue from leasing last year accounted for $129 million. This is a huge jump from the $4 million recorded in 2013, when leasing was first introduced in the Kingdom.
Ngeth Chou, the senior consultant at Emerging Markets Consulting (EMC), said on Tuesday that even though the leasing sector is fairly new in the market, it has made significant progress and is giving vast opportunities to financial operators and consumers.
However, he urged caution as he said that financial literacy among Cambodians is still low, and that the public were leasing consumption assets rather than productive ones.
“Many young Cambodians use leasing services to purchase consumer goods that fit their modern lifestyles. If the largest share of leasing is for consumer goods, then it is not a good sign.
“Business owners are constrained by a lack of capital to buy more equipment, so if leasing services offer machinery and equipment for business and production, then it will be of greater benefit to the economy,” he said.
According to the NBC’s figure, there were 11 leasing companies at the end of last year. Assets they held totalled $174 million.
Leasing companies buy equipment from vendors, and then lease them to customers at monthly installments. And they are often given a “rent to buy” option too.
NBC Director-General Chea Serey said the growing number of companies providing leasing services allowed those running small- and medium-sized enterprises to purchase assets such as mechanical and electronic equipment even when they don’t have all the money up front.
She said leasing companies are unlikely to stock useless products as their customers will not want to purchase them at the end of the term. If that happens, the leasing companies will be stuck with useless assets they can’t sell.
Mrs. Sok Sophearoth, an administrator at I-Finance Leasing Plc., said her company’s services are popular among Cambodian aged between 20 and 30 years old.
I-Finance focuses on providing affordable services that are essential to Cambodian people. In addition to supporting people’s livelihood, a majority of I-Finance’s customers are small-and-medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) which need financing on products such as electronic equipment, Trucks for transportation service as well as Tuk Tuk for taxi service, she said.
“So far, I-Finance has supported more than 5,000 Cambodian people and will continue to do more”, she added.