Friday, April 23, 2010

Fee for depositing cash in Acleda bank

So a friend of mine asked me to pass US$100 to a Cambodian young woman she knows who needed the money for her studies. This friend is in Australia and was unable to transfer the money from her Australian bank to my ANZ bank account in Cambodia [why I wonder, since they are all Aussie]. In the end she deposited the money into my Singapore bank account.

The Cambodian woman has an account with Acleda (pronounced "A. C. Leda"] Bank. I took the $100 to Acleda on Sivatha Boulevard here in Siem Reap town, thinking there would be no cost to me if I deposited cash into her account. The other option was to transfer it from my ANZ to her Acleda, which would most certainly involve a fee - Australian banks are notorious for charging customers for just about anything they can get away with.

Well, home-grown Cambodian bank Acleda must have learnt a lesson from some of these greedy banks. Acleda charged me US$2 to deposit CASH into one of their bank accounts. Incredible.

When I asked why they said it was because I was depositing the money at a different branch from the account holder's. It would only be free if I went to Phnom Penh's Steung Man Chey branch and deposited the cash there. Doing it at any other branch (and Acleda has more than 200 dotted all over the country) costs US$2.

The woman at the bank did not say I was charged the fee because it is not my account, but because I was depositing money in a different branch.

So can you imagine if you are an Acelda bank account holder and you opened your account somewhere in Phnom Penh. Later you moved to Siem Reap for work (or even from Steung Man Chey to say, Olympic, in Phnom Penh). Every time you deposit money into your bank account from a different location to the one where you opened the account you are charged $2. In case readers think US$2 is a small amount - it is what many people in Cambodia work a whole day, i.e., 8 hours, to earn.

Simply outrageous.

The thing is, almost exactly a year ago I sat in a meeting with Mr In Channy, the bank's President and CEO, together with a group of students from Insead. I even asked him a question on whether he thought the bank was growing too quickly in tough economic times (remember this was last year). His answer: no - because they are focused on micro-finance and rural people are largely unaffected by last year's global economic crisis.

We were all very impressed with Mr Channy's sincerity and personal achievements and also with Acleda's accomplishments. Really, Acleda is an amazing success story. It started out in 1993 as NGO funded by the ILO and UNDP.

Today, it has more than $900 million in total assets and ranks number one in deposits at over $670 million, with over $530 million in loans outstanding. I really should have written about the day spent with staff from Acleda - we even visited some of its micro-finance customers in a village - but just never got around to it. It was one of the best organisations the team met.

After that meeting, I had two thoughts: one to open a Acleda bank account for Bloom and two, to get the Bloom workers to take out a micro-finance loan to buy shares of Bloom.

Well, now I don't know if this is such a good idea (and just as well I sat on it!).


cloudfreesky said...

It is indeed outrageous. I want to tell you that the banks in Thailand have also recently learned this kind of extortion. All of the ATMs there are now charging a fee of 150 THB (nearly $5 USD)! The banks must have gotten together and decided to all engage in this evil practice, I have not been able to find any exceptions. I first encountered this when I was there in October 2009, before that there was never any such fee and now it is ubiquitous. One more straw that makes me increasingly disgusted with Thailand - a place which seems less and less Buddhist and more and more materialistic.

Diana Saw said...

Thanks for this cloudfreesky. It's the same in Cambodia! The bank I use, ANZ, charges US$4 to withdraw money from an overseas account. They doubled the fee - it used to be US$2 a couple of years ago. I am not sure if all the banks here conspire to do it but won't be surprised if they do.

I also know what you mean about money corrupting a people. In fact I wrote about my own experience in Cambodia and how it's making me want to leave the place...

PS: good luck with your pilgrimage to Brazil!

시엠립 정보 said...

Moneygram is a good solution for oversea transfer money under 30$ USD. Many oversea Cambodian worker using this.

100$ USD Sender pays $12 USD. and receiver get money without fee within 30 minutes.

Receiver needs only secret 8 digit codes from Sender.

And deposit to other area account, some bank they doesn't charge if customer transfer using ATM Card. For example Canadia Bank ATM Card holder can transfer 1,000$ per day to other account holder without fee.

Diana Saw said...

Thanks 시엠립 정보 (aka Siem Reap Information - google translate is great!)

I see you list occupation as Canadia Bank Plc so I assume you work for Canadia? Good to know it's free to transfer via ATM.

I just checked out the calculator.

Country Sending From : UNITED STATES
Country Sending To : CAMBODIA
Service : 10 Minute Service
Send Amount : 89.00 US DOLLAR
Fee Amount : 11.00 US DOLLAR
Total Amount : 100.00 US DOLLAR
Receive Amount : 89.00 US DOLLAR

An 11% fee is hugely expensive. Paypal and credit cards usually charge around 3%.

Diana Saw said...

Steve Goodman commented on your Note "Fee for depositing cash in Acleda bank":

"They also charge a fee if you want to cash a check that is from their bank in Phnom Penh at a branch outside of Phnom Penh.

Choosing a bank is just like choosing who to vote for... its almost never about who is best, rather it is about who is less bad than the alternative."

Shantel said...

This one is also applicable for paypal accounts.


Blog Widget by LinkWithin