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Cambodia Witnesses a Surge in Digital Payments in 2023, National Bank Reports

Phnom Penh, April 1, 2024 – The landscape of financial transactions in Cambodia has shifted dramatically towards digital, with a notable increase in mobile payments, as per the latest reports from the National Bank of Cambodia (NBC). This transition signifies a major shift from traditional cash transactions to digital modes, facilitated by advancements in technology and the broader acceptance of digital payment methods across the country.

In a press release issued on Friday, the NBC outlined the key factors contributing to this digital evolution. Innovations such as comprehensive payment systems, the development of applications for QR code scanning, and increased Internet penetration have made digital payments not only possible but also secure and expedient for the Cambodian populace.

The statement from the NBC detailed, "Digital payment transactions in Cambodia have seen exponential growth, encompassing the use of credit and debit cards, money transfers, and notably, QR code scanning payments. This digital shift spans from small-scale vendors to large-scale shops, becoming a common sight nationwide."

In 2023, the total number of mobile payment transactions, conducted in both the Cambodian riel and the US dollar, soared to 1,100 million, amounting to a staggering US$492 billion. This figure is equivalent to sixteen times the nation's gross domestic product (GDP), highlighting the vast scale of digital financial activity within the country.

A standout in this digital payment revolution is the Bakong system, which has seen a significant uptick in users. By the end of 2023, there were 27.6 million accounts registered with Bakong, servicing over 2.9 million shops and entities across Cambodia. The Bakong system, a brainchild of the NBC in collaboration with the Japanese tech firm Soramitsu, is pioneering in that it allows users to conduct digital transactions directly from their smartphones, bypassing the need for traditional banking infrastructure.

NBC Governor, Dr. Chea Serey, emphasized the strategic importance of these developments. "The advancement and efficiency of our payment transaction system have been instrumental in facilitating trade, promoting financial inclusivity, and endorsing the use of the Khmer Riel. This aligns with our broader objectives of digital socio-economic development," she stated.

This announcement from the NBC directly challenges findings from a survey conducted by the digital payment service provider VISA, which suggested a decline in digital payment methods in Cambodia and an anomalous increase in cash transactions, contrary to trends observed in the region.

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