A government order for one of the country’s major financial institutions to overnight replace its logo because it was too similar to that of the Ministry of Economy and Finance will hurt investor confidence, experts have said.
Acleda Bank this week changed its logo in a nationwide operation that cost the bank more than $3 million. Hun Sen also later ordered a microfinance institution to change its logo.
On Wednesday Prasac Microfinance was ordered to change its logo, which included three currency symbols that Prime Minister Hun Sen said could lead to it being mistaken for a state institution.
Hun Sen ordered the National Bank of Cambodia to convene an urgent meeting with Prasac to discuss the issue.
Financial institutions that need a new logo have until March 10 to make changes.
Nget Chou, a senior consultant with Emerging Markets Consulting, said that the abruptness of the order had raised eyebrows among shareholders and investors in Cambodia.
“So we [should] have a survey. We can’t take a personal opinion or the view of a small group to make a decision. It’s a lack of scientific analysis. We failed to verity that opinion with the view of the public,” he said, referring to suggestions that the change would lead consumers to misidentify brands.
He added that the claim that there was confusion between the branding of private financial companies and state institutions was questionable.
Bun Mony, an advisor to the Cambodia Microfinance Association and a former bank CEO, agreed, saying there was little evidence of confusion.
He added that even though people may report borrowing money from “the state”, it was just a common term for money lenders.
“So they borrowed money from banks. They know [because] they signed [contracts] with the companies, banks. They know they are private, but to make it easy they say ‘borrow money from the state’. That’s their way of speaking. Actually they know they borrowed from private companies,” he said.
Sim Senacheert, president and CEO of Prasac, said on Thursday the microfinance institution had already received approval for a new logo.
“I think it’s not really a big issue. It only gave us more [work], because we did not have a budget and action plan for that,” he said.
Seung Sophary, spokesperson for the Ministry of Commerce, said the requirement for financial institutions to change their branding immediately was because the government was concerned that citizens were being exploited.