NBC Governor says financial literacy breaks shackles of poverty

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H.E. CHEA CHANTO. Photo supplied

Cambodia’s financial sector development accelerated significantly in the past two decades from an asset size of 3,212 billion riels ($809 million) in 2001 to 166,352 billion riels ($41,402 million) in 2018.

This development resulted in increased access to financial services by the Cambodian people. In 2018, more than 50 per cent of the adult population was able to access financial services of which about 20 per cent opened a bank account.

These achievements could not have been done without an environment of peace and stability under the wise leadership of Samdech Akka Moha Sena Padei Techo Hun Sen, Prime Minister of the Kingdom of Cambodia.

However, to ensure a sustainable, safe financial sector development, more work needs to be done. The National Bank of Cambodia (NBC) has continuously updated our banking regulations to meet with international best practices and build our supervisory capacity through regular trainings of our staff in the country as well as internationally. But, this focus on the supply side is not enough.

A resilient financial system requires not only a strong regulatory and supervisory framework but also a strong consumer protection mechanism and robust financial literacy programmes. In this regard, a consumer protection unit was established at the NBC banking supervision general directorate to build on existing consumer protection regulations and a consumer protection regulatory framework for the industry.

Recently, the NBC adopted a regulation for complaint handling and a hotline for any financial consumer to reach us through phone calls on any inquiry or complaint and we would be able to educate them simultaneously.

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In line with the rapid financial sector development, financial capability development campaign, the “Let’s Talk Money” progmamme was established in 2016 targeting people between the ages of 15 to 65.

Besides employing videos and other materials relevant for better understanding of financial products and services available to social media, comic books were distributed to children between age grade 3 and 6 in remote villages.

There were also face-to-face campaigns conducted with local communities in all provinces in the country. Creative activities to target children and youth such as online contents and mobile application were also introduced with the support of development partners and the private sector.

In collaboration with the Ministry of Education Youth and Sport, financial literacy will also be included in the general education programme taught to children from Grade 1 to Grade 12.

With these activities, we are hopeful that the next generation of Cambodians would be in a better position when it comes to financial management, which is an important life skill.