Building a banking legacy

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
Neak Oknha Dr Pung Kheav Se, Chairman of the Board of Directors, Canadia Bank Plc.

An exclusive interview with Canadia Bank Chairman Neak Oknha Dr Pung Kheav Se as Cambodia’s leading financial institution marks 30 years of operations in the Kingdom.

How did you start Canadia Bank 30 years ago?

Canadia Bank was established on November 11, 1991, as “Canadia Gold and Trust Corporation Limited” under a joint venture with overseas Cambodians and the National Bank of Cambodia.

The main activities were based on gold transactions and gold plaque manufacturing.

On April 19, 1993, the name of the institution was changed to “Canadia Bank Ltd”, and subsequently to “Canadia Bank Plc” on December 16, 2003, as a commercial bank registered under the Ministry of Commerce and the National Bank of Cambodia.

From then on, Canadia Bank vowed to commit itself to every Cambodian to become the people’s bank.

The bank has lived up to that promise, especially during the 1997 disturbance in Phnom Penh. While the majority of banks were closed during the two-day disturbance, Canadia Bank’s doors remained open, not only for its own customers, but also for non-Canadia Bank customers to cash cheques, resolved salary payments to the workers of two garment factories, as well as helped an embassy to cash a cheque to purchase airline tickets for students to pursue their studies in France.

Over the years, Canadia Bank has continued to expand and extend its services, such as being the first Master-Card issuer in the Kingdom, being the first bank to introduce ATMs and bring in private banking to cater to high net worth customers.

These milestones were all building blocks in Canadia Bank’s growth to become the leading financial institution in Cambodia today.

How do you see the overall development of banking in Cambodia?

The Cambodian banking sector has been improving and growing steadily over the past three decades.

There are now 56 commercial banks in Cambodia, and this vividly demonstrates investor and public confidence in Cambodia and its banking industry.

In just 30 years, the sector has developed from ground zero into the prosperity today.

From setting up the financial institution with the National Bank of Cambodia, to today’s expanding industry filled with professional elite bankers and financiers, as well as expertise comparable to developed countries, Cambodia and its banking industry have definitely come a long way.

I would like to take this opportunity to convey my sincere gratitude and appreciation to Prime Minister Samdech Techo Hun Sen, for establishing and maintaining the political stability of the country, as well as opening economic policy over the last 30 years. Under his leadership and guidance, Cambodia has developed a strong presence on the global stage, resulting in an increase in investor confidence and an influx in foreign investment.

What is the future for Canadia Bank?

Canadia Bank has and will always evolve to cater to the development of the industry and its customers’ needs.

With Cambodia’s extremely young population, technology has been incorporated deeply into everyday life. Therefore, there is an increasing need and greater acceptance by the young population to adapt to the new digitalised banking experience.

With the rapid growth and development of digitalisation in the world and specifically in Cambodia, digital banking is no longer a technology of the future – it is of now.

As Cambodia’s development progresses and its youth and businesses get to grips with the available and emerging technologies, Canadia Bank will also evolve along with the information technology sector and continue to develop and expand its services.

Notably, Canadia Bank has appointed vendors from overseas and established a Smart Bank Centre as a dedicated division to implement digital technology and keep pace with an ever-changing world.

Over the past 30 years, Canadia Bank and the Cambodian people have gone through different periods in the Kingdom’s history. Together, we have witnessed a time of disturbance, a stabilised period with rapid growth and entered the digitalised, technologically advanced world of today. Canadia Bank has always been and will always be there every step of the way.

With its humble beginnings and consistent growth throughout the years, Canadia Bank will continue to live up the promise made to the Cambodian people 30 years ago and continue to be the best bank in Cambodia.

What advice do you have for the younger generation of Cambodians?

The world’s future belongs to the younger generation. As time progresses and with the development of science and technology, our way of doing things also undergoes revolutionary changes.

Although many things today can be easily replaced by mobile phones and computers, our principles of doing things have not changed.

Honesty and trustworthiness are my primary principles for everything.

With a reputation of openness, transparency and honesty, Canadia Group has gained the trust of customers, the public and business partners, thus achieving today’s success.

Similarly, loyalty to fulfil their obligations is a professional quality of every employee, so I hope that the younger generation will inherit this virtue and work diligently.

Another key to success is learning through experience. Only by taking on opportunities to continuously learn and increase your abilities can you successfully achieve your goals.

Lastly, one important piece of advice for the younger generation – don’t underestimate your potential and don’t underestimate your future. Everyone can achieve their dreams with great effort. With determination and hard work, you are already on the road to success.

Looking forward to the times ahead, the younger generation will certainly have a bright future with great success.