Statistics for Cambodia have pointed to a country embracing technology, and this week we saw a corporate bank make a legitimate investment
Sometimes at e27, interesting news comes our way but for one reason or another — be it large funding rounds, interesting profiles or government action — it gets left on the proverbial cutting room floor.
One such story occurred this week. However, it is worth bringing to the forefront not only because it is an interesting milestone, but also because received little to no attention from any sort of english-language media (the most I found was an 80 word blurb in the Phnom Penh Post).
Last weekend, Maybank Cambodia a mobile-banking solution that, in the context of the country, is a one-of-a-kind launch.
The app will integrate Augmented Reality and QR technology into the service.
Citing the need for “that personal touch in financial services”, the augmented reality is a neat little feature. Account holders can scan their surroundings and follow on-screen directions to the nearest branch.
Non-Maybank customers are free to use the QR Code Reader as well as the loan calculator.
The rest of the app works as any banking app across the globe. Customers can check their account balance, transaction history, transfer money to other accounts. Furthermore, people can send money to a mobile number.
But the real story isn’t the app itself, but rather the decision by Maybank Cambodia to make a serious investment in their smartphone technology.
A research study by The Asia Foundation published in November 2015 found that 39.5 per cent of Cambodians own a smartphone, a 51.7 per cent increase from 2014 and a nearly 100 per cent rise from 2013.
It is a numbers show a rapid adoption of the mobile internet — a trend Maybank Cambodia felt was significant enough to prompt the app launch.
Maybank cited internal data of its desktop-based online banking channels and reported over 50 per cent growth in both registered users and volume of transactions.
Maybank Cambodia CEO Cynthia Liaw also said the bank is planning to introduce more online services in the country.
“Digital banking channels not only offer convenience but also security with multiple layers of authentication required,” said Liaw in a statement.
When we talk with investors, to go-to ‘frontier country’ they often mention is Myanmar because it is an opportunity to be a first-mover in almost any industry.
Cambodia is essentially never brought up as a country with nascent tech potential. And yet, to quote The Asia Foundation report,
“The Internet—in particular Facebook—has become both a key source of information and a rapid-communication tool for groups of friends and colleagues, quickly surpassing other sources of information in terms of popularity among Cambodian youth.”
If a major bank is investing in the country, maybe it’s time for the startup community to follow suit.
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