For the first time, a Cambodian bank will soon begin issuing American Express credit cards. Cambodia Mekong Bank has signed an exclusive deal with the US-based company and will be in charge of providing all local services to cardholders and merchants, bank Chairman Michael Stephen said Wednesday.
“February 13 is the target date for the issuing of cards,” he said. “We are very optimistic about the size of the market among professionals here. The American Express card is enormously popular with international travelers and more and more Cambodians are traveling internationally.”
The American Express Gold Card that Mekong Bank will offer has an unlimited credit line and in other countries the membership income requirements are typically more stringent than for other credit cards.
“In Cambodia there is no exact income figure, we will consider each case individually,” Stephen said.
He said that rapid growth of the tourism industry here, which topped 1 million visitors last year for the first time, spurred the move by American Express. But he said it is also a sign of growing wealth among Cambodians.
“If you look around Cambodia you see that although it is a very poor country there is an emerging middle class,” he said.
A press statement by American Express says the move into Cambodia is part of an expansion into new markets that has seen credit cards offered recently in Vietnam, Sri Lanka and Pakistan.
“The Cambodia market is emerging as an important tourist destination, and the economy is doing well, providing an excellent opportunity to offer products and services that support the lifestyle needs of affluent customers,” Kula Kulendran, American Express senior vice president for Asia, said in the statement.
Mekong Bank’s President and CEO Khov Boun Chhay is the son of Cambodia’s once-colorful and equally controversial tycoon Theng Bunma.