|Written by May Kunmakara|
|Monday, 19 January 2009|
A plan to implement 42 new teller machines in rural areas will nearly double the number nationwide as the bank aims to boost service in the provinces.
Amid growing concern over the local effects of the global credit crunch, ACLEDA Bank is pressing ahead with plans to open 42 new automated teller machines in rural areas, bank CEO In Channy told the Post Sunday.
The plan will nearly double the existing total of 60 ATMs nationwide and allow rural patrons faster access to cash, In Channy said.
"The additional ATMs will make our bank a leader in providing easier access to cash," In Channy said, adding that the number of new clients using ATM services is growing.
"We are issuing as many as 500 new ATM cards each day for new clients," he said.
In Channy said the bank expects to begin installing the new machines in May, at an estimated cost of US$700,000, though he could not provide any details about where they will be located.
Some prospective areas could be affected by a lack of reliable electricity supply, he added.
The expansion of automated services follows a growing trust among Cambodians in the country's banking sector, In Channy said.
More people are choosing to apply for an ATM card for use as an optional form of identification, In Channy said-a process, he added, that requires only an initial deposit of $10.
"ACLEDA has 180,000 ATM cardholders at present," he said. "And they are not charged anything for using our 24-hour automated services."
The bank's expansion of automated services is part of a national strategy to modernise the banking sector, including credit card and mobile banking services, said Tal Nay Im, director general of the National Bank of Cambodia.
WE ARE ISSUING AS MANY AS 500 NEW ATM CARDS EACH DAY FOR NEW CLIENTS.
"Clients are being offered a growing number of new products and services at Cambodia's commercial banks to bring the sector in line with what is happening internationally. Though we might be behind our regional neighbours, we have to aim for an international standard," Tal Nay Im said.
"Many Cambodians don't have experience with some of the new services that are regularly available abroad, but commercial banks can play an important role in promoting these new services to new customers," she added.
Economist Chap Sotharith, head of the Cambodian Institute for Cooperation and Peace, said the expansion of ATM services, specifically in rural areas, could help ACLEDA appeal to larger numbers of potential customers that have yet to feel confident about using banks on a regular basis.
"If the bank can increase its presence in the rural provinces, they will likely attract greater deposits and help spur on economic growth nationally," Chap Sotharith said.
He added Cambodia's banks have begun to feel the strain of the global credit crunch, though largely indirectly.
"Cambodia's banking sector has suffered a bit, but mainly because of the impact the crisis has had on developed countries," he said.
Cambodia currently has 231 teller machines nationwide, according to a report by NBC in the first quarter of last year.