Cambodia Investment Review
A 2023 Visa Consumer Payment Attitudes Study has revealed a growing trend towards cashless payments among Cambodians, despite a significant preference for cash. The study, conducted across seven Southeast Asian nations, highlighted that 86% of Cambodian respondents still use cash for payments in 2022, a return to 2020 levels from a 64% dip in 2021.
However, the study also unearthed increasing adoption and acceptance of digital payment methods. QR codes, for example, saw usage rise to 68% in 2022, a significant leap from 36% in 2021 and 12% in 2020. Of the respondents, 68% reported using QR codes for purchases at least once a week, up from 49% in 2020.
Shifts towards digital payments
“There’s a clear shift towards digital payments occurring,” explained Ms. Ivana Tranchini, Visa Country Manager for Cambodia. “Cambodians are embracing the ease and efficiency of cashless transactions, especially through QR code payments, even while cash remains an important part of the payment ecosystem.”
Interestingly, the study also indicated a growing interest in contactless cards, with a rise from 42% in 2021 to 58% in 2022. Meanwhile, the aspiration for a cashless economy by 2030 was voiced by 46% of the respondents, indicating the public’s progressive attitude towards digitalization.
Tranchini further remarked, “Notably, it was Gen Z respondents who reported the highest preference for cash usage among all the demographic groups. This reveals a certain misconception regarding the security of cash versus QR code payments. Our recent initiatives aim to promote financial literacy among the Cambodian youth to address this concern.”
A key insight from the study was the crucial role of Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (SMEs) in the digitalization drive. A vast majority of respondents, 76%, reported shopping at SMEs at least once a week, with 66% paying in cash and just 11% opting for QR codes. This indicates an untapped potential for the expansion of digital payment systems in the SME sector.
“Government efforts towards SME digitalization, supported by our recent partnership with The Asia Foundation and the Ministry of Women’s Affairs of Cambodia for female entrepreneurs, signal the immense opportunity in this sector,” added Tranchini.
Changing consumer behavior
The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on changing consumer behavior was also evident in the study. The first-time use of home delivery services during the pandemic was reported by 37% of respondents, with over half of the respondents currently utilizing home delivery services. This trend is expected to rise further in the coming months.
Finally, the study highlighted the increasing use of digital tools for travel expenses. A quarter of respondents reported traveling in 2022, primarily for domestic leisure trips, with a third anticipating travel in the next 12 months. Travel emerged as the top category for installment payment plans such as Buy Now, Pay Later (BNPL), indicating an evolving relationship between consumers and financial institutions.
“Banks should consider integrating these emerging consumer trends into their mobile banking platforms to support positive financial behaviors,” concluded Tranchini.