Country’s First Legal Pawnshop Opens

A Singaporean-Cambodian company opened the country’s first legal pawnshop in Phnom Penh on Wednesday, announcing it would accept vehicles, jewelry, electronics and other items for quick cash.

The new pawn brokerage, Cash U Up, located at the PGCT Center on St 274 near NagaWorld casino, follows a government proclamation last year allowing pawn shops that meet certain criteria to operate legally.

Steven Lam, director of Cash U Up, said the market for pawning items is big enough.

“I feel that Cambodia actually requires such pawn broking services,” he said at the opening of the shop. He said new government regulations require proof of ownership for many items to ensure they are not stolen, unlike in illegal pawnshops.

“We also have to ask customers some pertinent questions about where does the thing come from and who does it belong to,” he said.

His company owns two shops in Singapore and has invested $500,000 in its Phnom Penh venture, he said.

Mey Vann, director of the financial industry department at the Finance Ministry, said that ministry has granted pawn broking licenses to three companies, but only Cash U Up has met requirements for operation such as providing a secure environment for valuables. The license fee is $30,000, he said.

“It is the first shop that meets the standards required by law,” he said. The shop must now report to police every week about acquisitions and clients, he said.

He said competition from the new shop will hopefully reduce the number of illegal shops that accept stolen goods.

“This area provides capital to the middle-class people who need money quickly, as the bank cannot provide to them immediately,” he added.

In Channy, president of Acleda Bank, said that regulated pawn shops offer legal protection and more accountability to both the shop and its customers.

“In Cambodia, they should have such something like that, as long as it is registered property and there is a framework of regulations,” he said.

(Additional reporting by Tim Sturrock)


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