The ultimate guide to banking for foreigners in Cambodia

Dec. 3, 2019, 9:06 a.m.

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It’s a well-known fact that Cambodia offers affordable living standards complemented by the trademark Asian hospitality. That’s why it’s no surprise that the Kingdom of Cambodia has been a choice destination for expatriates over the past decade. Phnom Penh was recently named as Southeast Asia’s new capital of cool by Lonely Planet.

However, not many discuss the nitty-gritty of actual everyday life in the country. So, to make your life easier, Realestate.com.kh is giving you the essentials of how banking works for expatriates in Cambodia!

Because living cheaply isn’t merely about spending less, but managing your finances well.

Banking and currency in the kingdom 

The Cambodian Riel (KHR) is the official currency of Cambodia, however, the U.S. dollar is widely accepted throughout the country. Both currencies are used in everyday transactions; with the USD used for big transactions and the KHR usually used for small purchases or as petty change.

According to the National Bank of Cambodia (NBC), while the KHR is growing in terms of circulation, 80% of transactions in the country are still done using the U.S. dollar. As an expat, you don’t have to worry much about this, as all banks in Cambodia support both currencies.

Opening a bank account 

One of the best things about expat living in Cambodia is the ease of opening an account with almost any bank. All you need (as an expat) to open an account are the following:

  • A passport valid for at least 6 months
  • A 1-Year extended visa
  • A nominal deposit amount (depending on the bank)

Bring all of these 3 documents to any major bank and their staff will set you up with your very own Cambodian bank account. However, there are instances of some bank branches/representatives asking for additional documentation as an exercise of due diligence. Better have these ready just in case:

  • A passport sized photo of yourself (white background)
  • Business patent/license/registration (if you’re self-employed or own a business in Cambodia)
  • A copy of your rental agreement
  • Proof of employment in Cambodia

So, the question now is, which bank should you go to?

TOP 5 Banks for Expats in Cambodia

As a general rule for expatriates, we recommend you pick the bank that is most accessible to you. You can never be too sure when an emergency will arise, hence, we highly recommend that you also adopt this rule-of-thumb.

But let’s say you’re in a major city and there’s a wide range of banks well within your area. This is where our recommendation of the top 5 banks for expats in Cambodia comes in:

ABA BANK

Photo courtesy of Khmer Times, K/T Mai Vireak

ABA also is known as the Advanced Bank of Asia founded in 1996 is wholly owned by the Montreal-based National Bank of Canada (NBC), after its last 10 % share was acquired by NBC in October.  ABA Bank serves financial products geared towards individual persons, micro-financing needs, and SMEs.

While ABA Bank is not the biggest bank in Cambodia in terms of assets, they do have the most sophisticated online banking app and payment network. Expat communities online generally recommend ABA Bank because of the ease of transaction within Cambodia and with personal accounts from their home countries.

ABA Bank has 67 branches nationwide, assisted by over 100 self-banking kiosks, and over 210 ATMs available nationwide.

ABA Bank even offers an offsite bank account opening where their staff will go to your residence, along with the relevant documents to be filled out, to open an account right in the comfort of your home.

Minimum Deposit Amount: USD 50 (for non-residents) / USD 10 (for residents)

Maintaining Balance Required: USD 10 (both residents and non-residents)

CHIP MONG BANK

Photo courtesy of cambonomist.com

Chip Mong Bank is a relatively new entry into Cambodian banking sector. Having only started official operations in January 2019, ChipMong Bank has quickly grown to fill the gaps within Cambodia’s increasingly digital banking space.

Chip Mong Bank is owned and operated by the ChipMong Group, a local conglomerate invested in different consumer products and services in the country. With their backing, Chip Mong Bank has opened a total of 5 offices (as of November 2019) located in Mao Tse Tung Blvd (Head Office), Phsar Deum Thkov, Preah Norodom, Boeng Salang, and Toul Kork.

Minimum Deposit Amount: USD Zero (0) for Premier Account

Maintaining Balance: USD Zero (0) for Premier Account

J-TRUST ROYAL BANK (formerly known as ANZ ROYAL BANK)

ANZ Royal Bank was established in Cambodia in 2005. The bank was initially a joint venture between Australia and New Zealand Banking Group Ltd., and The Royal Group of Cambodia. In 2019, the Japanese J-Trust Bank bought into the partnership and has taken over official operations since August of the same year.

Despite ANZ Royal Bank’s limited presence with only over 40 branches nationwide, the bank still boasts as impeccable banking portfolio as acknowledged by the Global Finance Magazine with their 2015 Best Trade Finance Bank in Cambodia. In 2016, the International Finance Magazine awarded ANZ Royal its Best Foreign Retail Bank in Cambodia.

J-Trust Royal Bank’s entry into the booming Cambodian banking sector is set to bring the trust associated with Japanese quality.

Minimum Deposit Amount: USD 500

Maintaining Balance: USD 100

BRED BANK

Bred Bank officially opened its services in Cambodia in 2017 and is thus, one of the newest banks on this list. It is owned and operated by the BRED Banque Populaire, France’s 2nd biggest banking conglomerate. It is the only French - and European - bank in the Kingdom of Cambodia as of 2019.

Bred Bank Cambodia’s CEO, Guillaumme Perdon, said in an interview with the Khmer Times that the bank aims to break Top 5 or 10 banks in the Kingdom in the next 4 or 5 years. Bred Bank has multiple branches across Phnom Penh. Bred Bank also has branches in other major population centres such as Siem Reap and Battambang.

Minimum Deposit Amount: USD 100 for Silver Account

Maintaining Balance: USD 1 deducted per month as maintaining fee for Silver Account

MAYBANK CAMBODIA

Maybank first established its operations in Cambodia in 1993. It has since supported multiple sectors of the economy such as retail banking, SMEs, commercial business and corporations. In April of 2012, this Maybank officially became Maybank Cambodia to symbolise the regional bank’s commitment to its stakeholders in the country.

It is the choice financier of Malaysian and Singaporean businesses operating in Cambodia - particularly companies focused on infrastructure development and the service sector. Maybank currently has over 20 branches operating in major population centres in the country. The bank has also expanded its services to support SMEs through various loan programs.

Minimum Deposit Amount: USD 100

Maintaining Balance: USD 10

This is just a brief overview of the biggest banks in the Kingdom of Cambodia. As to which bank should you choose is completely up to you. Given that bank promotions change over time, we highly encourage you to visit any accessible bank to you and find out which one will suit your needs the best.

Now that you know more about expat banking in Cambodia, you might be interested to read our guide to retiring in Cambodia

Tickets and sponsorship for Cambodia Real Estate Awards 2019 are available. Learn more about it here.

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