Cambodia averaged a steady GDP growth in the past years and is expected to remain robust for 2016- 2017 supported by garments exports, real estate, construction and reduction in oil prices. On the other hand inflation rose moderately by 1.2% in 2015.
Nguon Sokha, State Secretary of Ministry of Finance highlights the importance of financial inclusion, “In order to promote inclusive growth we need to expand further the role of the financial sector”. Cambodia’s financial market used to specialize in very specific sectors, however due to regional competition they need to diversify products and service delivery.
“If you look at the history of Cambodia in the early 90’s we were one of the social lease oriented economy which we call central plan economy”, Nguon Sokha says. Nevertheless, together with the country’s transformation as a whole, the financial sector has also changed to a market base economy.
The non-banking financial sectors are under the Ministry of Economy and Finance which is a policy maker, and created the financial sector development plan, which is a ten year projection updated every five years. “Thanks to the economic and financial liberalization, we are able to attract foreign investments. Due to our history with a very long civil war, we lack not only financial resources but also human skillful resources, which can be mitigated through foreign income”, Nguon Sokha says.
While the non- banking area is under the Ministry of Economy and Finance, the banking sector is under the National Bank of Cambodia, and both must be coordinated and aligned. “The economy is growing with upward trajectory thanks to Cambodian banking. Despite having already about 40 banks, penetration is very low”
“The economy is growing with upward trajectory thanks to Cambodian banking. Despite having already about 40 banks, penetration is very low”
Azhikhanov, CEO of ABA Bank says, “Therefore, we still have room to grow”, he adds.
ABA Bank is one of Cambodia’s premier banking institutions. Founded in 1996 as the Advanced Bank of Asia Limited, ABA Bank is now a multi-branch network bank offering a full range of products and services to all Cambodians. “In 2007, we knew the value in Cambodia and invested heavily in the bank so its infrastructure in the future would be set and prepared the bank to be a really big institution”, Mr. Azhikhanov says. However, previously one of the most important changes happened in 2004, when the National Bank of Canada joined ABA Bank as shareholders.
ABA Bank strategy is based on the retail and deposit side. “We are trying to be much diversified, 90% of all clients have made deposits of no less than US $50,000, and the same can be said of the loan side”.
Its strategy is also focused on Small and Medium Enterprises (MSME). MSME-based economy is 99.8% of business in Cambodia, is defined as a “micro” and they employ 73% of the entire workforce and contribute to about 65% of GDP. That is how ABA Bank has become the third biggest bank/financier in the country.
“Our assets by the end of 2015 were US $806 million and the profit was US $15.7 million. Our staff has increased to 1100”, Mr. Azhikhanov says.