RHB Discusses Expansion, Dedollarization & the Cambodian Financial Market

An Interview with Mr. Lim Loong Seng, Country Head of RHB Bank Cambodia

 

Q.Can you tell us about the RHB Banking Group in Malaysia and the transformation from OSK Indochina Bank in 2012?

 

A. RHB Banking Group is the 4th largest banking group in Malaysia in terms of assets. The bank has a history of more than 100 years with a total assets of USD58 billion. Today the Group’s has a presence in 10 countries with 330 branches and offices across ASEAN and Hong Kong. RHB Indochina Bank’s operation in Cambodia began in 2008 as OSK Indochina Bank, a 100% owned subsidiary of OSK Investment Bank. It was not until 2012, RHB Banking Group acquired OSK Investment Bank to pave way for a larger bank which spans across ASEAN and Hong Kong today. With that acquisition, the Cambodian unit was transformed into RHB Indochina Bank in April 2013 which is 100% owned by RHB Banking Group.

 

Q. RHB Bank just rolled-out its internet and mobile banking in 2017. As a new entrant, have you faced any challenges introducing them to your account holders?

 

A. In line with our Group’s digital transformation initiative as well as to deliver a better customer experience, we believe launching our internet and mobile banking is crucial to ensure our customer continue to enjoy the convenience and privileges that the Bank has to offer. As Cambodia has a large number of unbanked population, our participation in the digital sphere is very timely. Challenges are unavoidable and in fact a necessity given the crowded field of 40 commercial banks and numerous other financial institutions in the Kingdom. We have received numerous positive feedbacks on our new “RHB Now” internet and mobile banking. It has so far been an entirely new discovery for our new online users and many have found it a pleasant banking experience at their convenience. You can expect more from our “RHB Now” as we continue to enhance its capability basing on the “RHB Now” in Malaysia which received the award of “Digital Banking Initiative Of the Year” under the Asian Banking & Finance Retail Banking Awards

 

Q. Are the services provided by internet and mobile banking different from that in Malaysia? If yes, can you explain the differences and is it secure?

 

A. They are essentially the same as they are under the same platform including its look and feel. Malaysia “RHB Now” however will have a more sophisticated and wider features compare to “RHB Now” in Cambodia. Lifestyle privileges and online sale are some of the features that the Bank plans to introduce them in Cambodia by stages in the time to come. In terms of security, we are adopting the same security standards in Malaysia to ensure our customers have peace of mind performing their banking transactions online and enjoying the convenience it provides.

 

Q. In a country like Cambodia with 40 commercial banks, do you feel that the banking sector is overcrowded? If so, how do you feel the financial market should respond?

 

A. We expect to see more commercial banks to be opened by end of 2018 and yes, we do think it is on the high side for a country with approximately 15 million populations. However, Cambodia is growing at a consistent 7% GDP for the last 5 years and has sufficient room for more players. It will be challenging for the banks to grow in this competitive environment so each of the banks will have to find their own niche market to compete effectively. As the industry is dominated by a few large banks who have scale and reach the smaller banks would have to explore other opportunities to sustain their presence. Merger and acquisition would likely continue its momentum going forward.

 

Q. Do you foresee that having loans in Khmer Riels will be a challenge, knowing that majority of loans today are in US dollars by commercial banks?

 

A. The usage of Khmer Riel is a national agenda of the National Bank of Cambodia as a tool to manage the country’s monetary stability. It deserves the support of the financial community. We do face challenges as the Bank has to educate the general public on the wider adoption of KHR especially Khmer Riel loans particularly in the urban areas where USD are the most common currencies. Close collaboration between the banks and the authorities would go a long way to encourage the general public to switch to KHR. Nevertheless, as a responsible bank in Cambodia, we shall give our continuous support to

 

the government to drive its initiative towards achieving 10% Khmer Riel loan by 2019.

 

Q. The National Bank of Cambodia Secretary General has recommended that banks should be more active in their CSR (Corporate Social Responsibility) campaign; can you share with us your CSR activities and whether it has impacted society?

 

A. Corporate Social Responsibility has been one of the focuses for RHB Indochina Bank aside from our objective to grow our business. We built the 2 pre-schools in Sa Ang Commune in Kandal Province in 2016 and 2017 serves than 100 children in the commune. The pre-schools are provided with teaching materials and nutritious foods. With

 

Aide-to Action partnership, we also established computer/internet and English classes for 50 youth within that commune. We also organize the RHB Junior Football Cup in 2017 to nurture the next generation of youth’s interest in sports. On top of that, we donated food, cash and basic necessities to poor families in Kampong Cham province in conjunction with the Hari Raya Aidilfitri celebration year-on-year and also donated to Red Cross Cambodia. We are passionate about our CSR and shall continue to uplift the well-being of the under-privileged communities in Cambodia.

 

Q. How many RHB Bank branches are there in Cambodia today and what are your expansion plans in

the next few years?

 

A. RHB Indochina Bank today has 12 branches with 8 branches in Phnom Penh and 1 each in Siem Reap, Sihanoukville, Kampong Cham and Battambong. The Bank also has a total of 34 self-service terminal onsite and offsite across the 5 provinces above to provide banking conveniences to our customers.

 

We do expect to open more branches going forward after the successful launching of our “RHB Now” which will help us reach the unbanked population.

 

Q. Can you let us know about types of loans available today at RHB Bank? Are there limits to loan amounts per individual or company?

 

A. RHB Indochina Bank offers various types of loans catering to different customers needs. For personal financing, we

have Home Loan, Personal Loan and Car Loan.

 

For our business and corporate customers, there are Property Loan, Working Capital Loan and Trade Financing.

 

Besides the regulatory guideline on lending limit, which is 20% of the bank’s net worth, RHB Indochina Bank also adopts internal limit as part of the bank’s risk management strategy.

 

Similar to all banks, a sectorial limit depending on the industry profile and prospect is generally adopted by RHB too.

 

Q. From my understanding, RHB Bank will be moving to a new Corporate Head Office later this year, may I know when? Do you foresee any new banking products and services available in the upcoming years?

 

A. We expect to move our Corporate Head Office and Phnom Penh Main Branch to a new building within the financial district in Phnom Penh by end of 2018 to provide an improved banking experience to our customer. The new building will have state of the art facilities and spacious banking hall with conducive ambience. RHB’s branding and presence will be more prominent then. Besides that, the Bank plans to launch its Premier Banking, Debit Card and the first of its kind Safe Deposit Boxes to add to our wide range of services to provide more convenience to our customers. Do expect more initiatives coming from RHB Indochina Bank going forward as we continue to introduce better and more services and products which will give our customers an exhilarating experience.

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