October 12, 2017

Pi Pay links to first bank in step towards fully cashless platform

Customers purchase movie tickets using the Pi Pay app on their smartphones in Phnom Penh. Heng Chivoan

Kali Kotoski, The Phnom Penh Post
Thu, 12 October 2017

Mobile payment platform Pi Pay announced yesterday that it has signed an agreement with ABA Bank that allows the bank’s customers to seamlessly transfer money between their mobile wallet and ABA accounts, a move the company describes as a milestone toward creating Cambodia’s first fully cashless digital wallet not tied to a specific bank.

Tomas Pokorny, CEO of Pi Pay, said the partnership was a “very big step” for the fledgling company that aims to utilise financial technology, or fintech, to promote financial inclusion and eliminate the need for customers to carry cash.

“We can now say Pi Pay is a truly cashless platform as customers can transfer money between ABA and Pi Pay accounts and then use the money to purchase goods and services from partner merchants without ever having to handle cash,” he said.

He added that since the company launched operations in June its platform has handled $10.5 million in transactions, with about 120,000 individual downloads of the app and a user retention rate of around 85 percent.

Askhat Azhikhanov, CEO of ABA Bank, said the agreement allows the Canadian-owned local bank to cement a position at the forefront of the digital transformation of financial services in Cambodia.

“We have been pioneers in the digital market in Cambodia, and our internet and mobile banking platforms have revolutionised the way people bank in Cambodia,” he said. “This partnership with Pi Pay is a natural next step for us and offers our customers mobile payment options, including some interesting discounts at a wide arrange of Pi Pay merchant locations.”

ABA Bank was among the first banks in Cambodia to launch internet banking operations and in May 2015 rolled out the country’s first full-scale mobile banking app. Some 90,000 customers -
about half of the bank’s total client base – are currently utilising these online and mobile banking platforms, bank data show.

Azhikhanov said the new partnership with Pi Pay sets the groundwork for even more innovative services beyond cashless merchant payments such as allowing the bank’s business clients to use the Pi Pay platform to manage their payroll activities.

“This is a far more efficient and secure way of handling payroll and we are confident that it will be attractive for many businesses in Cambodia,” he said. “We see this agreement as a real synergy to provide more services to our clients.”

Gordon Peters, a partner at investment firm Mekong Strategic Partners, said the agreement between Pi Pay and ABA Bank made sense as Pi Pay has made solid progress in developing its payment platform and establishing a large merchant base.

“Partnerships between banks and payment providers are absolutely needed for e-commerce to take off in Cambodia,” he said.

Peters noted that cashless transactions have enormous potential for growth in Cambodia, especially as they provide lower risk and are inherently safer for consumers.

“The percentage of transactions in cash in Cambodia is much higher than other countries,” he said.

“We expect the shift to cashless to gain more velocity here over the coming years.”

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