Save & Pay in Riel: Expert’s formula for Cambodia’s stronger currency

PHNOM PENH: While Cambodia offers multiple payment options for tourists, including the yuan, the primary goal is to strengthen the Khmer riel. The National Bank of Cambodia (NBC) aims to provide a convenient mobile payment system for Chinese tourists, eliminating the need to carry cash and exchange currency.

However, promoting the riel domestically requires a multi-pronged approach. Vice President Lor Vichet of the Cambodia Chinese Commerce Association () emphasizes the importance of encouraging savings in riel. Historically, the dollar's influence grew alongside the 's presence in Cambodia.

Shifting consumer behavior takes time. Vichet acknowledges the need for refined financial policies and payment infrastructure. Additionally, import costs and car purchases often rely on USD, creating a hurdle.

Simple solutions exist. Malls and supermarkets displaying prices in riel can normalize its use. Similarly, mobile phone top-ups could transition from USD to riel, leveraging Cambodia's booming mobile payment sector.

The National Bank highlights the success of mobile payments, with transactions reaching 1,100 million in 2023. The Bakong system is a prime example, boasting millions of accounts and facilitating payments across numerous businesses.

By embracing technology, the NBC aims to streamline transactions, promote financial inclusion, and ultimately, strengthen the riel. This aligns perfectly with the government's vision of a digital, socio-economic Cambodia.

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