Transferring money around the world is getting easier thanks to several new FinTech services, but which one is best to receive money in Cambodia, particularly for the growing number of digital nomads and online entrepreneurs working here.
Is Cambodia financially connected to the world banking system?
While the last 10 years, or so have seen Cambodia transform from a Fintech point of view, sadly the Kingdom is still developing to global banking and financial infrastructure. PayPal for example technically works here, but cannot be used to actually receive money.
It is still possible to use traditional money transfer methods, or Fintech operators from overseas to do online business here, although this tends to mean jumping through multiple extra hoops, extra charges, or as is usually the case both.
Opening a bank account in Cambodia
Technically the easiest way to receive money in Cambodia would be by opening a bank account. To do this you will need the correct visa and depending on the bank also a rental contract, as well as a work visa, and even a work contract. This massively differs from bank to bank, with the easiest bank and most popular for ex-pats being ABA Bank.
To read more about obtaining a business visa in Cambodia click here.
ABA is popular for a number of reasons, such as having well-located branches, ATMs and generally having a reputation as being foreigner-friendly and with the market-leading mobile applications. Opening an account is easy, you can have a card branded with Visa, MasterCard, or UnionPay, as well as receive money with ease from abroad.
Receiving money in Cambodia is thus done through the traditional SWIFT transfer method, which usually takes between 3-5 days. Fees for this can be mitigated by using a platform such as TransferWise to send the money, but unlike in other jurisdictions, you will need to pay a fee to receive money.
At ABA the fee to receive overseas remittance is 0.1 percent of the total or $20 whichever is the greater. Transfers under $5,000 do not require verification of funds, sums over this do and you will need to provide proof of where it has come from and that it is legal.
Using international ATM Cards
One of the most obvious ways to do business and get money within the Kingdom would be to have your money sent to your home/business country and withdraw the money from an ATM.
While being one of the easier options it is certainly not the cheapest. Generally speaking, it is a minimum fee of $5 to withdraw money via ATM, which goes up on a sliding scale depending on how much money you withdraw. If you are not withdrawing from a USD account you will also be subject to conversion fees, as well as potential fees from your home bank.
Using Western Union and other money transfer platforms
Western Union is the oldest and most well-known money transfer platform. Using them is again relatively easy with them not only having an app, but also allowing you to send money via credit, as well as debit cards. Money is then picked up at one of their 3 branches in Phnom Penh, or via the numerous branches of Wing, with whom they are partnered.
Wing can also be used to send and pick up money via Ria, as well as to pay bills, or transfer money internally. Larger amounts will work out cheaper than using an ATM, but the whole cash element does not exactly make them online business-friendly.
Other popular money sending platforms such as MoneyGram, Xoom, and World Remit are also not only available but particularly popular for remittances from the Cambodian diaspora.
Can you use PayPal in Cambodia?
You can currently open and use a PayPal account registered in Cambodia, but its lack of features makes it all but pointless particularly for those doing online business. Essentially an account can be opened, said account can then be used to add money from your local account, from where you can pay for services online. What you cannot do is withdraw money from PayPal to your local (Cambodian) bank account).
The workaround for this is to have a USD denominated PayPal account in another country and use the PayPal debit card to withdraw money, but again you will be subject to ATM, as well as PayPal fees.
Is Stripe available in Cambodia?
Stripe is an online merchant account that allows users to receive credit and debit card payments online. Aside from its ease to use and simple online integration it also removes the need to go through the cumbersome steps of opening a merchant account through a bank. Stripe is not currently available in Cambodia, which means opening a merchant account at a bank.
Many banks such as ABA offer this service, although it will need you to also open a company in Cambodia, as well as be approved for the account.
To read about opening a company in Cambodia click here.
Why are PayPal and Stripe not available in Cambodia?
There is no definitive answer to this, with rumors of both of them coming often doing the rounds. Essentially though both companies are generally wary about entering developing markets, or those seen as high risk, of which Cambodia is often seen.
Using Wise in Cambodia
Wise previously known as TransferWise is one of the cheapest and most convenient ways to transfer and receive money online. They also offer what are essentially bank accounts where money can be sent and received via an online virtual bank account. These can not only be opened and registered in Cambodia but probably offer the cheapest and easiest way to send and receive money within the Kingdom.
When it comes to working online Wise is not only probably the best option for most, but is also used by a number of companies needing to send money to Cambodian-based employees.
When will Revolut come to Cambodia?
Globally one of the most popular “borderless cards” alongside Wise, Revolut offers both personal, as well as business accounts with no fees to withdraw money internationally. Many countries throughout the world offer Revolut making them a great option for doing business and thus withdrawing the money, or using the cards in Cambodia.
They are though not yet present within Cambodia, although the company did announce in 2020 plans to expand across the south-east Asian region.
Overall getting money in and out of Cambodia is not impossible, but there is still a lot of room for development within the country to make Cambodia an attractive location for digital nomads, as well as grow the independent outsourced work sector.