Mobile Payments Set for Phnom Penh Eateries

Diners may soon be able to leave their wallets at home the next time they decide to eat at a restaurant in Phnom Penh.

Starting next week, WING, a Cambodian mobile payment service provider, will introduce a new service that allows people to pay their restaurant bills by simply waving their mobile phones in front of a terminal at the register.

Currently, the service is being tested at more than a dozen restaurants in Phnom Penh, including Score Bar and Grill on Street 288 in Boeng Keng Kang I commune.

Most of the restaurants using the service may be popular among Cambodians as WING currently has about 440,000 customers, less than 100 of which are foreigners.

“They just need their phones,” WING CEO Anthony Perkins said Wednesday on the sidelines of a regional mobile banking summit held at NagaWorld casino.

WING currently allows users to transfer, withdraw or deposit money between one another other via their mobile phones. But under the new service, money stored in a WING account can be debited when paying for goods using what is known as near field communication (NFC), a form of wireless technology.

Such technology is mostly seen in more developed countries where users pay for anything from cups of coffee to public transportation by simply waving their phone in front of a terminal.

“We plan to start [this service] in Phnom Penh and expand to the provinces,” Mr. Perkins said, adding that in order to use the service, one must be a WING customer.

Still, to use WING’s new service, customers do not necessarily need to own a smartphone.

“We understand that a majority of the market does not have a smartphone equipped with NFC technology, so we have created an NFC sticker that can be placed on any phone. This allows a user with any type of phone, and a WING account, to pay,” said Mr. Perkins.

Although the country’s mobile banking and payment sector ap­pears to be growing, it is uncertain how popular WING’s new service will become—particularly in a country where most people pay with cash.

“We’re confident it will take off, but we know it will take time,” said Mr. Perkins.

“No customers have tried it yet. Just the WING workers,” Score owner Pascal Plamondon said Wednesday. “It’s quite easy to pay with money, but this is definitely a secure way to pay.”

Mr. Perkins said WING had taken security precautions by ensuring that users of the service will have to enter a pass code after their phone is presented for purchases greater than $5.

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