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Company Seeks To Expand Money Transfer by Phone

As soon as you hear the beeping alert, money has been transferred to your account. That’s because Wing, the first instant transaction service in Cambodia, is up and running.

Wing started in November 2008 and now has around 16,000 customers, mostly students and garment factory workers. The service has been limited because only one moble phone service, Hello, can undertake money transfers.

Cambodia has about 4 million mobile phone users, and Wing is in talks with other companies to extend its coverage.

The Wing service acts like a traditional bank account, but money can be sent via cell phone at a cheaper cost, Wing’s managing director, Brad Jones, told VOA Khmer.

Wing allows users to send up to 4 million riel, around $1,000, through mobile phones, with a service charge of one-quarter of a percent.

“The benefit is to reduce a community’s vulnerability,” Jones said. “The end result is a community that becomes a Wing customer that is at much less risk of losing its money and has the ability to send money at a much cheaper cost.”

In Cambodia, money transfers have become necessary among migrant laborers who frequently send money to support their families in rural areas. Very few of them use formal banking services, preferring instead to send money through taxi drivers, friends or relatives, means with high costs and no guarantees.

“It will strengthen the financial system and help economic growth,” Om Seng Bora, head of VisionFund, a microfinance institution partnering with Wing.

Mobile transfer service has operated in many countries in the world and it has become very popular in Philippine, India and Kenya, he said.

“It is amazing,” said Thor Sophorn, an agent at a Wing transfer shop in central Phnom Penh. “It is modern and very easy. We can send money in a minute.”

Wing does face a perception among potential customers that money can be lost in the process, but Jones said the system was based on modern technology and was very secure.