The Wall Street Journal reports Mobile Service Targets Cambodia's 'Unbanked'
- September 14, 2010
By Andrew Lavallee
How do you roll out a banking service in a place where most people don't have bank accounts?
Australia & New Zealand Banking Group Ltd. tackled that question in developing WING, a banking and payment system it launched in Cambodia early last year.
In Phnom Penh, said Peter Dalton, ANZ's general manager for innovation, it's not uncommon for workers to send money to relatives in rural areas via a taxi-bound courier, which is risky as well as expensive. The Melbourne, Australia, bank estimates that only about 500,000 of the country's 14 million population have bank accounts, but "there is a need for saving and sending money," he said.
In addition to "unbanked" consumers, there are the "underbanked"—those who have bank accounts but don't have ready access to them because branches and automated teller machines are rare in many parts of the country, Mr. Dalton said.
A large number of Cambodians do have cellphones, though. WING works on four of the country's major mobile networks—hello, qb, Mfone and Smart Mobile—via a simple interface. Customers enter their account numbers and personal identification numbers, then see a menu of options that includes checking their balances, paying bills and sending money.