Cambodia Investment Review

E112: Thomas Schings on Cambodia’s First Licensed Digital Asset Exchange Amidst a Journey of Cultural Discovery and Financial Innovation

E112: Thomas Schings on Cambodia’s First Licensed Digital Asset Exchange Amidst a Journey of Cultural Discovery and Financial Innovation

Cambodia Investment Review

In the 112th episode of the Rising Giants podcast, Thomas Schings, the General Manager of RGX, Cambodia’s first licensed Digital Asset Exchange, and former Head of Research at The Association of Banks in Cambodia, shares his remarkable journey from a curious traveler to a pivotal figure in Cambodia’s financial sector. Thomas’s story is one of passion, adaptation, and innovation, as he navigates through cultural nuances to contribute significantly to Cambodia’s economic development.

Read more: RG 111 – Sopheakmonkol Sok on Digital Transformation in Cambodia Pioneering Data, Digital & AI Solutions

Starting with his roots, Thomas describes his initial draw to the broader world, “Growing up in Germany, I was fascinated by the idea of exploring the vastness of our planet. This curiosity led me to Shanghai for Chinese language school right after graduating at age 18, opening my eyes to the immense diversity and opportunities beyond my home.” His return to Europe for finance studies was interspersed with travels across the Middle East and Asia, but it was Cambodia that captured his heart. “I first came across Cambodia and instantly fell in love with the country and its people. After completing my degree in Europe, I knew I had to find a way to make Cambodia my home.”

Adapting To the Cultural Ethos of Cambodia Was Essential

Thomas then tackled the stereotypes often associated with Cambodia by Westerners. “The common misconceptions in Germany and Europe about Cambodia being very poor, dirty, and dangerous couldn’t be further from the truth. Yes, it’s not a wealthy country by Western standards, but it’s incredibly safe, reasonably clean, and the people are exceptionally welcoming and cooperative.”

Reflecting on his initial years in Cambodia, Thomas ventured into the education sector, teaching accounting and banking. He highlighted the stark cultural contrasts in educational expectations, “The hierarchical nature of Cambodian institutions was a significant adjustment. Students here prefer to listen and absorb, rather than question or debate. This required a meticulous approach to lesson planning and content delivery.”

Max Thornton of Rising Giants and Thomas Schings, the General Manager of RGX.

Emphasizing the importance of digitalization in education, Thomas advised, “To propel Cambodia towards its ambitious economic targets, prioritizing digitalization and the construction sector is crucial. It’s about building a foundation for the future.”

Discussing his tenure with The Association of Banks in Cambodia, Thomas shared his learnings, “Adapting to the cultural ethos of Cambodia was essential. As a German, being straightforward and open is second nature, but here, I learned the value of timing and the art of presenting rather than debating. The language barrier was another hurdle, but it’s been a journey of gradual improvement towards achieving some proficiency in Khmer.”

On the evolution of Cambodia’s banking sector, Thomas observed, “The sector has seen exponential growth, with an average annual growth rate of about 20%. The push towards promoting the Khmer Riel has been a significant shift, moving from a mere 1% of bank portfolios in Riel to a mandated 10%, a strategic move that enhanced the government’s economic control.”

RGX: Aiming to Revolutionize Cambodia’s Digital Finance Landscape

Transitioning to his role at RGX, Thomas expressed excitement about this new venture under the Royal Group, aiming to revolutionize Cambodia’s digital finance landscape. “With Binance reporting 200,000 wallets in Cambodia, there’s a clear demand for a regulated digital asset exchange. Our goal is to provide a safe, regulated platform for cryptocurrency transactions, while also educating the public on its benefits and risks.”

Read more: Royal Group Exchange: Embarks on a Path to Transform Cambodia’s Crypto Landscape with Localized, Regulated Approach

Addressing the challenges of establishing RGX against the backdrop of global giants like Binance, Schings emphasized the local advantage, “Our differentiation lies in our local presence, support in the Khmer language, and the Royal Group’s strong reputation. This local grounding instills confidence among Cambodian users and helps build a community of blockchain enthusiasts.”

Thomas Schings, the General Manager of RGX.

Concluding the conversation, Thomas reflected on the influences that shaped his journey, “It’s not so much about individual influences but the decentralized concept of blockchain itself. It’s about community and the collective power to attribute value, a concept that’s truly revolutionary.”

Thomas Schings’ journey from a global wanderer to a leader in Cambodia’s digital finance revolution encapsulates the essence of innovation, cultural sensitivity, and the relentless pursuit of growth. His contributions not only pave the way for financial inclusivity in Cambodia but also underscore the transformative potential of digital technologies in emerging markets.

Listen to the full podcast here.

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