Cambodia Advances Tourism Sector with Blockchain-Based Digital Currency Paymentsby Fintech News Singapore December 11, 2023
Cambodia is implementing new initiatives to expand payment options for tourists by cementing blockchain-based central bank digital currency (CBDC) partnerships. This effort is part of the country’s broader strategy to update its tourism sector, reflecting the significance of tourism as one of the four main pillars of Cambodia’s economy.
The first nine months of 2023 saw a notable increase in international tourist arrivals in Cambodia, with the numbers nearly quadrupling compared to the previous year, according to the country’s tourism sector. This rise underscores the importance of enhancing payment systems for local merchants to better serve international visitors, particularly in mobile payments.
The National Bank of Cambodia (NBC) has been instrumental in facilitating these digital currency evolutions. Firstly, the central bank has enabled tourists to use their e-wallets linked to Khmer Riel bank accounts, to make payments at any KHQR merchant in Cambodia.
KHQR, launched by NBC in mid-2022, is a system designed for both domestic retail payments and cross-border transactions within ASEAN countries, using a unified QR code compatible with various mobile banking apps, operated by Bakong.
Moreover, Bakong CBDC users who meet the full Know Your Customer (KYC) criteria, as well as Khmer Riel bank account holders can now make transactions at Alipay+ global merchant locations using local wallets and apps supported by NBC. This move is expected to facilitate the use of the local currency.
Dr. Chea Serey, NBC’s Governor, commented on the initiative, stating,
“This simplicity of making payments provides merchants with a boost in revenue, helping to stimulate economic activity.”
Douglas Feagin, Senior Vice President of Ant Group and Head of Alipay+, Ant International, noted,
“This partnership will offer added convenience to tourists, allowing them to use familiar payment methods. It will also enable easier shopping at local businesses, especially for micro-merchants.”
This development in Cambodia’s payment infrastructure aims to enhance the experience for international tourists while supporting local businesses in the evolving digital economy.