ACLEDA Bank is set to launch its mobile-banking service Unity today. The new technology will allow customers to transfer funds between separate Acleda accounts and complete bill payments via phone. It runs in both Khmer and English, with currency transactions in riel, US dollars and Thai baht. Bank chief In Channy said in a statement that the service was available anywhere in the country and globally for those with international roaming.
Registering for the service will require a onetime fee of 20,000 riels, $US5 or 200 baht, currencies that will be supported by Unity, according to its website. There are also associated fees for each transaction performed.
Although it cost ACLEDA over US $1 million to establish, the service will initially target existing account holders, but will eventually be marketed to Cambodia’s unbanked.
“Unity will be a highway for ACLEDA so that we can invite unbanked customers to join as well.”
However, use of ACLEDA’S Unity service will be restricted by the quality of hand phone its customers possess, according to its website.
All mobiles will have access to Unity’s SMS-based banking services, including balance inquiry, mini-statements and mobile top-ups, but the phone must be capable of operating a web browser or hosting Unity’s phone application to be able to transfer funds between separate ACLEDA accounts, or to complete bill payments.
The largest mobile operator in Cambodia “Mobitel”, is about begin offering mobile money transfers at the end of year facilitated by a grant from the GSM Association Foundation.“The point is to create value-added services for customers,” Although Mobitel, owner of the Cellcard mobile brand, was still finalising the list of services to be offered, he said it would include allowing money transfer by mobile phone.
“Cellcard will be providing much-needed financial services such as money transfer, bill payment and airtime top-up to working-class migrants who need to send money home to families in rural areas.”
The goal is to make money transfer easier for those without bank accounts, base on Mobitel’s record “Cambodia has a population of over 14.5 million … but less than 4 percent of the population has a bank account”, “There are some 7.1 million active SIM cards in Cambodia, according to Ministry of Posts and Telecommunications statistics released earlier this month. This equates to mobile penetration of some 48.9 percent of the total population, although figures do not take into account mobile users with multiple SIM cards”.
Mobitel is highly confident as establishing the mobile money-transfer services would be relatively simple and the implementing the system is very straigh forward thing to do.
Wing the first mobile money transfer service provider in Cambodia say hello to competitors:
WING spokesperson Lee-Anne Pitcaithly said the firm welcomed the competition, but said that the service should come under regulatory oversight. “Being a payments service, it is appropriate that this comes under the oversight of the National Bank of Cambodia [NBC],” she wrote in an email, “The NBC is a strong and effective regulator, and I think users of the service would get comfort from it being under NBC supervision.” The mobile payments service hosted by Mobitel would be limited to about one-third of the market due to interconnectivity with other mobile providers, she said. WING had access to more of the market, she said. “By the end of the year, we expect WING to have access to two-thirds of the market, because we operate across multiple carriers.”
A spokesman for WING, an ANZ-owned company and Cambodia’s present leader in mobile fund transfers, said Unity’s requirement for higher-end data phones may prove too costly for many of the Kingdom’s consumers.
A WING transfer is similar to sending an SMS message, and therefore requires only a simple phone. However, it also requires agreements between mobile providers and WING to operate, restricting the service to Hello, QB, Smart, and Mfone users at present, though “we are always looking to operate with more,” he said.
Phnom Penh-based information security consultant Bernard Alphonso said security is crucial to protecting fund transfers, similar to security requirements for online banking. “It’s obvious they have to secure the integrity and authenticity of the users. Otherwise, [mobile banking] won’t make sense,” he said. Mobile banking has been provided in the Kingdom since 2008 by WING, a venture owned by ANZ Bank. ACLEDA Bank has also previously targeted beginning mobile banking later this year, Senior Vice President and Head of Marketing Sok Sophea said previously.