The smartphone revolution has arrived in Cambodia – and nothing is changing more rapidly than the world of finance. Increasingly, wallets are found in apps, not pockets, money is sent via SMS, not cheques, and banks operate out of a cloud, not a branch.
Sathapana Bank is at the forefront of this technological sea change. A state-of-the-art digital banking platform is being introduced to all of its 168 nationwide branches, where mobile and internet banking, e-wallets and QR code payments will sit side-by-side with traditional services provided by the bank’s knowledgeable staff.
A lot of the technologies may be new, but the goal is the same: making banking seamless for its customers.
“Using technology helps to reduce our operational costs, which means that we can offer cheaper and more convenient financing to our customers. So, it is always on our agenda,” says CEO Kato Norihiko. “For example, we are building alliances with money transfer and payment companies so that our customers can make loan repayments through the agents in their villages.”
The bank’s forward-thinking approach is giving legs to its ambition of becoming the country’s largest commercial bank. But as it develops into a technology-driven bank of the future, its leaders understand it cannot altogether abandon its past. While expanding its urban operations, it will remain faithful to the rural customers who made the bank’s rapid development possible, according to Kato.
“As the second largest bank in Cambodia in terms of branches and staff, we have a responsibility to support the Kingdom’s sustainable and inclusive development”
“It’s a bit of a costly operation, but I think people expect a bank like us to continue in this market. So, we will continue to help our customers in rural areas,” he says.
Underpinning the bank’s commitment to its rural customer base is the belief that the role of the bank extends beyond finance. For Kato, it’s not just about making money.
“As the second largest bank in Cambodia in terms of branches and staff, we have a responsibility to support the Kingdom’s sustainable and inclusive development,” says Kato. “We encourage our customers to invest in projects and companies that have a positive environmental or social impact. For the world, this is a must. But it’s also good for business, too.”