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The Credit Line

Credit cards are increasingly being accepted across the country, but is plastic really better than paper?


Cambodia has a rapidly growing economy with a rising middle class, and with a booming capital city, larger businesses are seeing greater opportunities to establish themselves in the local market, particularly by offering alternatives to point-of-sale cash payments. These businesses are aiming at a young demographic with higher disposable income, making monthly payment options available through partnering banks for items such as cars and motorbikes. Additionally, using a credit card from a partnering bank can also fetch you additional discounts at various stores upon purchase.

However, the local market, both in terms of merchants and customers, has yet to fully adapt to the credit card system. Being a relatively new concept, smaller banks and businesses are slowly making this payment option available to the wider population. Access to the technology for credit card systems is still a problem across the country, limiting their use mostly to the major cities. However, with the development of the banking network and the country’s infrastructure network, Cambodians all over will eventually have the option of using a credit card.

Management Insider canvassed opinions from a cross section of young citizens to see how popular credit cards really are.

Chhim Dinaro, 27, Tour Guide: I have no use for a credit card as I do not shop online, because the quality of products is not guaranteed. I use online services such as Wing for transferring money and paying electricity bills. However, I plan to have a credit card in the future because of its convenience.

Khan Makara, 25, Hotel Staffer: I have a bank card, but use it only to receive my salary. I prefer cash over online transactions for all payments, except in a few cases where I can use Wing. I have nothing to do with credit cards and have no plan to own one in the future.

Sovana Pichkunthea, 17, High School Student: I don’t have a credit card because I do not have enough money to require one. Every time I want to buy online, I have to ask a friend who does own a credit card. I will get a credit card when I have a job and have enough money.

Hong Dana, 17, High School Student: My father gave me a credit card as a gift but I have only used it once, for purchasing an application from the App store. I like the idea of online payment systems, but I do not have enough money to make many purchases.

San Saroeurn, 26, University Student: I have a bank card, but only to access my salary. In my point of view, most businesses in Cambodia still prefer to receive cash payments and many don’t have the technology for credit transactions. I will use a credit card in the future, so I don’t need to worry about losing my wallet or cash.

Kim Tong, 21, Mechanic: I do not know much about how credit cards or online payments work, and I don’t think I need a credit card because I can do all my daily transactions with cash. However, transferring money via Wing is convenient and secure.

Mit Chanta, 21, Sales Representative: I have no interest in credit cards or visa cards, and I don’t really know how it works, and I feel that cash is all we need to make payments. I also have no plan to get a credit card because I never buy things online.

Thornin Monkol, 20, University Student: I have a virtual credit card that I use to purchase items online, and also to pay for online gaming. It is very convenient. I just have to log in, choose the amount I need to pay and voila, it’s done. Easy.

Meas Sovanleeta, 16, High School Student: I have a virtual credit card and use the PayGo system, mostly for buying fashion materials and cosmetics. The bonus of using this system is that I can buy things from all over the world. Its very easy to use: I just need to put the money on the system and then I can buy. I don’t even need a card.

Sarun Bunnaline, 19, University Student: I have a Visa card. I use it mostly to buy sports equipment from abroad and air tickets. No matter where I go, I only have to take this small card and I can buy anything without having to count and carry cash like in the old days.


Words by Vivaddhana Khaou | With special thanks to Mounen Meas, Menghuot Hean and Tharith Seoun