Through partnerships with payment providers joining its national bank’s digital currency ecosystem, the country is helping to modernize its tourism industry.

According to the Cambodia’s tourism industry, 3.92m international tourists visited the country in the first nine months of 2023, an increase of 211% over the same period last year. With tourism being one of the four pillars of the country’s economy, local merchants there need to boost the quality of engagement with international visitors — particularly in accepting mobile payments.

To promote efficient and secure cross-border inbound and outbound mobile payments the country’s national bank has made it so that people in the industry can simply use their home e-wallets that are connected to a Khmer Riel bank account to pay at any KHQR (launched in July 2022 by the National Bank of Cambodia, NBC and operated by Bakong) merchants across Cambodia.

Additionally, users of the Bakong central-bank digital currency (CBDC) having full KYC, as well as Khmer Riel bank account holders, will be able to use local wallets and apps supported by NBC, at Alipay+ global merchants, which can help promote the use of the local currency.

KHQR was created for retail payment in Cambodia and cross-border payment within ASEAN countries. It requires the use of just a single QR code for receiving of payments through any mobile banking apps of Bakong members including Bakong App, making QR payment simple for both customers and merchants.

Bakong temple
Cambodia’s CDBC is named after the Bakong temple ruins

According to NBC’s governor, Dr Chea Serey: “This simplicity of making payments provides merchants with a boost in revenue, helping to stimulate economic activity. I’m confident this collaboration with Alipay+ will be beneficial for all parties.”

Douglas Feagin, Senior Vice President, Ant Group and Head of Alipay+, Ant International, said: “We believe that this (partnership) will bring added convenience to tourists, who have a preference to ‘pay like a local’, using payment methods familiar to them wherever they can. More importantly, this will make it easier for them to shop at local businesses, particularly micro merchants.”