According to the recently released PROFITENCE 2022 E-commerce Report Cambodia’s online payment gateway market is rapidly evolving. Despite cash still being the preferred choice for many, the trend towards online payment methods is clear, driven by convenience and safety considerations.
As the industry continues to evolve, with a growing interest in digital currencies and the need for more payment methods to be integrated into various industries. The National Bank of Cambodia (NBC) has been focusing on promoting online payments through its Bakong system, which has 287,558 registered accounts and 55 bank and financial institution members as of 2021.
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In 2021, the Bakong system conducted 8.16 million transactions, 80% of which were in USD, resulting in a USD transaction volume of 2.89 billion, an 8,200% increase from 2020.
NBC’s KHQR has also been widely adopted for cross-bank payments. NBC is working with the Techo Startup Center to implement electronic know-your-customer (e-KYC) procedures. As of December 2021, there are 154,842 credit cards, 4,043,822 debit cards, and 10 million bank depositor accounts with this rate rapidly increasing and predicted to continue.
Stephen Higgins, Co-Founder of the Phnom Penh based financial consultancy firm Mekong Strategic Capital told Cambodia Investment Review that the COVID pandemic had really super-charged the growth in digital payments in Cambodia.
“A big area of focus now, and certainly something the National Bank of Cambodia wants to see, is for retailers to have just one KHQR code for payment, rather than a jumble of QR codes from different banks,” he added.
Cashless payments on the rise
The Covid-19 pandemic initially encouraged the use of cashless payments due to concerns over exposure to the virus, and this has become the norm in the capital due to its ease of use.
The trend of cashless payment adoption in Cambodia has been growing, with the rate increasing from 40% in 2021 to 68% in 2022. Cambodia has since been rapidly closing the gap in cashless payment adoption in comparison to South East Asia which recorded 93% adoption in 2022. This trend is expected to continue, as over 40% of consumers plan to use cashless payments more often in the future according to a VISA survey.
Additionally, Banks and Financial Institutions are promoting the use of QR code payments for both consumers and merchants, with 4.4 million transactions worth approximately $233 million taking place in 2021. This trend is expected to continue as the usage of QR codes in Cambodia continues to grow in conjunction with the adoption of NBC’s KHQR system.
Key players in the market
The latest data from financial institutions indicates that ABA, ACLEDA, and Wing are the clear market leaders in Cambodia’s online payment gateway market. A brief overview on them, from the December 2021 NBC report highlights the following:
- Established in 1993
- 262 branches
- 909 ATMs and 4,462 terminals
- 1,518,387 debit cards
- Established in 1996
- 81 branches
- 612 ATMs and 3,290 terminals
- 1,436,167 debit cards
- Established in 2009
- 1 branch
- Over 10,000 Wing agents with 100% coverage of all the districts in Cambodia
- 2 ATMs, and 13,699 terminals
Since then, all three players have significantly increased their reach by expanding the number of branches, agents and terminals.
A market survey revealed that 62% of respondents own at least one bank account, a growing driver for online payment methods when shopping online. Convenience and comfort were cited as the top reasons for this preference, followed closely by safety. Of the various online payment options, 42% still opted for cash.
The results of the survey showed that 60% of respondents are using some form of online payment method, with the remaining 38% not having a bank account. The most used payment methods were cash, debit card, and other online payment options. Convenience was cited as the primary factor for choosing these payment methods, followed by considerations for safety.
The independent survey highlights Wing as the preferred payment method for online shopping country-wide (53%), primarily due to its reach and first-mover advantage, however the survey results indicate that ABA has been leading in cities like Phnom Penh, where more digital payments are exchanged.
Clear trends towards online payments
A market analysis highlighted the need for more information on bank penetration to improve financial inclusion for both governments and private players. Consumers also need to be educated on financial services and digital literacy, and more payment methods need to be integrated into various industries.
It also revealed that mobile banking transfers have become more popular than Visa/Mastercard for online shopping, with convenience and safety being the top two reasons for choosing a payment method.
Cambodia has established itself as a hub for digital payment solutions, with consumers having access to numerous non-banking options. Although digital currencies, such as Bitcoin, are not yet regulated, there is a growing interest in this area among younger people in Cambodia.
The PROFITENCE “E-commerce 2022 Report” was launched with direct support from the Ministry of Commerce and provides an in-depth analysis of the e-commerce sector in Cambodia in 2022, focusing on 10 key industries while offering nationwide coverage with its market survey that was conducted in July 2022.
PROFITENCE is a boutique Corporate Finance firm based in Cambodia focused on helping emerging businesses grow in South East Asia. Read more about them at: www.profitence.asia