Mobile payment company Wing and the Foreign Trade Bank (FTB) of Cambodia on Monday announced they had joined forces to expand the bank’s already-existing prepaid Visa card network in an effort to make it easier for locals without bank accounts to have access to electronic forms of payment.
The prepaid Visa card does not require a bank account or collateral to purchase, but users pay a small fee ($3 to $5) for the card. Then, depending on the card, users add up to $500 or $5,000 on it to spend. A small fee ($2 to $8.25) is associated with every card reload.
Users can make purchases where Visa cards are accepted, including online. Users also can withdraw the money and check their balance via Visa PLUS ATMs, though some fees may apply.
When the money runs out, the card can be topped up at a Wing or FTB outlet as well as online or via a mobile phone. Remittances are also possible.
“The ability to obtain and top-up this card is unparalleled by any other financial institution in the country,” Wing CEO Anthony Perkins said Monday at an event announcing the partnership at the Cambodiana Hotel.
In a unique twist on the usual cash payment given to Cambodian journalists who attend a press event, members of the media were offered a prepaid $20 Visa card.
“Cambodians are far too dependent on cash. The more Cambodians become familiar with electronic payment methods, the better,” Mr. Perkins added.
FTB introduced prepaid Visa cards more than two years ago, but the bank’s small network made it a challenge for the cards to go mainstream, said Dan Felsing, FTB’s project director for CashCard Distribution and Mobile Payments.
“It didn’t take off. Not because it wasn’t a good product, but because no one was aware it was there,” he said. “It would take millions of dollars to build Wing’s distribution network. This gets the cards in many more hands.”
Mr. Felsing said FTB had 42 points of sale for its prepaid Visa card, but now with Wing, it is more than 1,000.
Mr. Perkins said Wing plans to expand the points of sale to 2,000 within the next two months.
Banking executives on Monday said it remains to be seen whether Cambodians will opt for a prepaid Visa card, as most of the population still prefers cash and prepaid cards offer an uncertainty about which financial institution controls the money on them.
“It’s a positive addition to the growing products in the country, but it remains to be seen how quickly it will be taken up,” ANZ Royal CEO Grant Knuckey said.
“We certainly believe that this is a market that has considerable potential as the wealth of the population grows,” he said.
Lorijon Bacchi, Visa’s chief representative and country manager for Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos, said she could not say how many Cambodians currently hold Visa cards.
“I’m unable to release figures on a market less than a certain size,” she said, adding only that the company is “invested” in Cambodia.