Advanced financial technologies offer a golden opportunity to drive financial inclusion in developing countries, such as Cambodia, by offering access to payment, deposit, saving and loan services to a large, unbanked population through the mobile devices that are being adopted so rapidly in all segments of society.
Statistics overwhelmingly show that including more people in the formal financial sector, including through ‘fintech’ applications, is a key contributor to economic growth and stability.
The Cambodian government has made financial inclusion a priority for its economic development plans, with support from international organisations such as the Asian Development Bank, which has underwritten $40m worth of loans to a financial inclusion programme that it expects will add more than 2% a year – close to $400m – to Cambodia’s GDP.
The goal is to bring the estimated five million Cambodians who currently have no access to formal financial services into a connected, secure and well-managed financial system spanning the traditional network of banks and MFIs, as well as the new networks being created by fintech in e-banking, e-payment and e-commerce.
The key word here is ‘connected’ (although security and good management are essential too, of course) and it is vital that all players in Cambodia’s young fintech industry commit themselves to values of cooperation and connectivity rather than challenge and competition.
In rolling out Pi Pay as Cambodia’s first truly cashless payment app we have a very clear vision that building partnerships with stakeholders is essential to our success.
And we have a very broad view of who our stakeholders are – not just the customers, merchants, banks, MFIs and government agencies that are at the heart of our cashless world, but also other fintech service providers who might look more like competitors in a traditional business sense.
If we want to realise the true potential of fintech – to see rural Cambodians being able to pay a utility bill from home, in riel, through a secure mobile app rather than spend time and money travelling and queuing to pay the bill with unsecured cash – then we need to keep the gateways open between us so that our customers, and the country as a whole, can benefit from the life-changing opportunities that fintech offers.