Refresh Mobile yesterday announced the purchase of mobile banking outfit WING from Australia’s ANZ, although the amount of the deal was not released.
WING will join Refresh’s stable of electronic payment and cell phone top-up services, in addition to soon offering overseas mobile remittance capabilities, Refresh executive director Ian Watson said yesterday.
He added that WING had appealed to Cambodians without bank accounts, who represented the vast majority of the population.
“Our plan is to bank the unbankable,” he said. “We want to be the partner of choice for all consumers in Cambodia.”
WING would not rebrand to Refresh Mobile, Watson said.
WING, a subsidiary company established by ANZ in 2009, allows users to transfer money and make payments via their mobile phones. Workers in Phnom Penh often use the service to remit money to their families in the provinces.
According to officials at Refresh and ANZ, WING is the Kingdom’s largest mobile banking service by subscriber numbers, with more than 350,000 users.
Stephen Higgins, the chief executive of ANZ Royal Bank, a joint venture by ANZ and Cambodia’s Royal Group, said the Australian bank’s focus on the corporate market and upper-end retail customers had prompted the sale of WING.
“WING is a great business, but it actually sits outside this strategy,” he said. “So ANZ went through a process to see if there was a more natural owner for WING.”
ANZ had set up the service as a banking option for those who were traditionally outside the banking market, such as garment workers, Higgins added. He declined to put a figure on the deal, citing a confidentiality agreement.
Refresh’s Watson claimed the acquisition had made his company the Kingdom’s largest mobile banking provider. Competition in the sector was limited, he said.
Cambodia’s only other provider of mobile banking was ACLEDA Unity, which has about 45,000 subscribers, ACLEDA Bank executive vice-president So Phonnary said yesterday.
Demand for the service had grown since Unity opened in 2009, So Phonnary said.
“It’s very important for them to have a bank in their pocket,” she told the Post.
Unity appeals largely to ACLEDA customers, as the mobile service connects directly with the comp-any’s banking system, according to So Phonnary.
She claimed that Unity and WING were not in direct competition with each other.
Cellcard, the Kingdom’s second-largest mobile provider by subscriber numbers, provides a similar service called Cellcard Cash.
According to the Cellcard website, the service can be used to add money to Cellcard accounts, as well as to pay bills and transfer money to other Cellcard users.