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Southeast Asia

Prince Bank holds court in Cambodia

Prince Bank has achieved a remarkable transition from a microfinance institution into a fully fledged bank in just two years.

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Phnom Penh

By Rebecca Feng

The fast-tracked transformation of Prince Bank from a private microfinance institution (MFI) into a commercial bank was “like madness” but also “a lot of fun,” says Jennifer Lee, the bank’s chief digital and technology officer.

Onlookers might have laughed at its ambition to compete with the established banks, but the Phnom Penh-based lender is an example of an MFI-to-bank conversion done well.

Prince Bank – previously Prince Finance – received a commercial banking licence from the National Bank of Cambodia (NBC) in July 2018. In the two years that followed, the number of employees at the bank increased almost seven-fold, from a little more than 150 to roughly 1,000.

Assets surged from $142 million to $524 million, customer loans from $49 million to $339 million and deposits from $1.4 million to $138 million by the third quarter of 2020.

It launched its own mobile banking app in May 2019 and rolled out, in record time in Cambodia, both Mastercard and Visa credit and debit cards in early 2020.

Converting from an MFI to a bank or merging with an existing bank are two common routes for Cambodian microlenders to get a share of the country’s fast-growing banking sector.