| Cambodia’s banking sector maintained strong and steady
growth in terms of loans and deposits in 2012.
The country’s commercial bank lent US$ 5.49 billion to the private
sector in 2012, an increase of 30 percent over the same period in 2011.
Ever increasing business activity saw more lending to the recovering real
estate and construction sectors, agriculture, manufacturing, tourism and
the service industry.
Deposits increased to US$ 6.02 billion up to November 2012, an increase
of 24 percent over the same period in 2011; another positive sign that
displays the growing confidence in the country’s banking system
and its political stability.
According to the National Bank of Cambodia (Cambodia’s Central
Bank), 1.6 million people had received bank loans by May 2012, while the
number of people with savings accounts had increased by 27.67 percent
to 1.9 million.
As a result of prudent control and international standards introduced
by the National Bank of Cambodia (NBC), the banking sector has developed
and grown rapidly, and banks are becoming ever more efficient in what
has become a very competitive environment.
As the level of competition intensifies; banks are being forced to adopt
more aggressive and proactive marketing strategies to increase their market
The number of commercial banks in the country will reach 34 in 2013 with
the announcement in late 2012 that two more banks plan to enter the market.
Cambodia’s rapid economic growth and political stability has motivated
foreign banks to invest in the country. The new entrants believe that,
as the economy further strengthens, the demand for loans could surpass
the current banking system’s ability to supply them.
According to NBC, news banks bring new sources of capital to Cambodia
as well as new and sophisticated banking solutions for developing the
bank industry. Foreign banks also attract more foreign investment and
encourage businessmen from their home countries to come and do business
International banks also provide key financial information and much-needed
investment data to companies and funds interested in Cambodia, as the
kingdom’s own data is often inadequate or non-existent.
The increased competition among the large banks is leading to diversification
and no doubt will lower the cost of financial services in Cambodia; it
is also leading to consolidation among some of the smaller banks, who
have to reconsider the risks of remaining small.
NBC recently gave its approval for the Taiwanese Cathay United Bank to
acquire a 70 percent stake in Cambodia-based Singapore Banking Corporation
Ltd (SBC). While in August 2012, Malaysian financial services group RHB
Capital purchased OSK Indochina Bank.
The consolidation would be welcomed and that (smaller) banks should be
encouraged to seek a strong partner if they see that they are not strong
NBC supports mergers if they strengthen the banking sector and provide
better services at an affordable cost.