East Asian FinTech firms seek guidance in Cambodia’s digital economy

Harrison White

The rapidly growing financial technology (Fintech) sector is attracting more East Asian companies that are now seeking assistance in creating localized operation teams in Cambodia’s digital economy.

Jack Lee, Founder of the e-commerce site Smile Shop told Cambodia Investment Review that because his company Smile Shop’s vision is to become Cambodia’s top e-commerce platform he has been paying a lot of attention to the development of the local FinTech sector.

Lee has seen that in Cambodia, there are many entrepreneurs from China, Japan, and South Korea who are innovating the sector.

He added, that due to the large number of Chinese Internet companies currently going overseas, it has been relatively easy to obtain funding, technology, business model development as well as other support.

But according to Lee, these companies are also having great challenges in Cambodia.

“The biggest challenge is to recruit great talent, especially in the Internet and Fintech industries. I think the key to success is not technology, not a business model, but an excellent localized operation team,” he added.

Cambodia's digital economy
(R) Jack Lee, Founder of the e-commerce site SmileShop

The platform allows for information sharing and discussion on Cambodia’s digital economy

To assist with these concerns the Cambodia Financial Association of Technology (CAFT) launched a new initiative the East Asian Digital and Tech Committee (EADTC) headed by Jack Lee.

The platform allows for information sharing and discussion with matters regarding the East Asian Digital and Tech Industry to ensure the continuous growth and development of related industries in Cambodia.

The initiative aims to foster cooperation within the Cambodian community, relevant regulators, and stakeholders for them to connect and collaborate in joint initiatives and future growth of the Cambodian tech and digital landscape.

The Committee is open to all current and upcoming members hailing from the East Asian Countries that have business representations or do business with entities in Cambodia or have a significant interest in East Asian Digital Tech Community.

“I noticed the CAFT association very early. I found that has concentrated many excellent Fintech startups and I hope to have more communication with them and promote the development of Cambodia’s Fintech together,” Lee said.

“I hope that through my efforts, more outstanding East Asian digital tech companies can join CAFT and establish a wide range of cooperation and communication bridges,” he added.

Tomas Pokorny, Secretary-General of Cambodia Finance & Technology Association told Cambodia Investment Review that the committee is targeted to members who seek to further deepen cooperation, understanding, network, and investment reach to and from China, Hong Kong, Singapore, Japan and Korea.

“We recognize the need of tech and digital collaboration across all sectors and all nations but acknowledge the “power-house” status of the developed nations named above and their contribution to further innovations in Cambodia via both expertise or capital support,” Pokorny said.

“Furthermore, aside from the general membership activities, we are going to be having as CAFT, which are to include networking events, educational seminars towards digital, tech and financial literacy and awareness, as well as cybersecurity initiatives, women entrepreneurship activities, and many others, CAFT’s appointment of Jack Lee as a chairman of the committee has been very strategic,” he added.


Extending Cambodia’s digital economy into Eastern Asia

According to Pokorny, CAFT is currently comprised mainly of Cambodian and Western companies adding Jack Lee’s role is to further extend this reach to Eastern Asia.

“We hope this new committee can attract a membership pool from a wide range of sectors, offering Cambodia as a startup launchpad for those as well as the gateway to the developing nations of SE Asia,” he said.

Earlier this month CAFT formally launched the CamTech Summit 2021 Powered by Prudential virtual financial technology festival.

Remi Pell, Chairman of CAFT said in his keynote speech this year’s event held in conjunction with the World Tech Festival & Singapore FinTech Festival will inclusively showcase Cambodia’s emerging and accelerating Fintech and Tech sectors.

“It will also provide a great opportunity to have an in-depth discussion about the current digital revolution of Cambodia’s financial and technology industries across multiple cities and industries in the Kingdom of Cambodia,” Remi said.

“In summary, this year’s festival should be used to both educate and encourage more investment in Cambodia’s digital revolution and showcase the very best of local Cambodian FinTech companies on the international stage,” he added.

According to data analyst site Statista, revenue from the e-commerce market in Cambodia is projected to reach $251 million by the end of 2021, with an annual growth rate of 8.94% between 2021-2025.

The number of users of Cambodia’s e-commerce market is expected to reach approximately 7.8 million by 2025 and represent a user penetration of 44.1%, the site added.

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