We leave the office at 8.15 am. Dara Heng, Mobile Savings Officer at Amret (Cambodia) has a big day ahead of him, with around 40 clients to visit and collect savings from. We follow behind him with the Branch Manager, Samboeun Chhun, as his motor bike dips in and out of the Phnom Penh traffic. Our first visit is a small shop not too far from the Toul Kork branch where Dara is based along with one other Mobile Savings Officer.
Dara’s first client sells a range of household goods, while her husband fixes watches out front. She has three savings accounts with Amret, one in local currency (Khmer riel), one in USD and one for her child’s future. Dara works very quickly because she is busy. Clients can deposit securely in cash and instantly have their money registered on their account: Dara updates the client’s personal savings books and credits the account directly on his tablet connected to the central banking system.
Next we go to the Samaki market where Dara has at least 10 clients. Busy market stalls covered by colourful umbrellas line the streets while tuk-tuks and other vehicles fight their way down the bustling central alley. The morning is the busiest time of day for this market. Some clients are too occupied to be seen and tell Dara to come back later or tomorrow if they don’t have any cash today. All the clients we collect from are women, who are busy selling groceries, making waffles, carving pineapples, sorting clothes, sewing cushions, in short, it is a hive of activity. One clothes seller tells us that she finishes at the market at lunch time and has two completely different businesses to run in the afternoon. Although it’s quite a traditional market, small signs of the digital revolution are present, with one client watching shows on her tablet as she works, and another already selling her clothes online as well as in her shop.
Most clients deposit around 5 to 10 dollars every week day with some depositing up to 150 or 300 dollars regularly. Clients pay just 1 dollar per month to benefit from the service and can withdraw with Dara or from their local branch. Clients are mostly saving for their businesses, some for their house and some for their children. All the clients we see began to use Amret around two years ago, when Mobile Savings Collection was introduced and when Dara began working on the market. The level of satisfaction of the service is high, with clients enjoying the fact that they don’t have to fit a branch visit into their busy schedules, and several of them mentioning how polite and friendly Dara is. This is the reason that the clients say they choose and stay with Amret. Samboeun, the branch manager, who does the rounds with Dara every so often, confirms that the Mobile Collection Service has helped his branch to attract new depositor clients.
We leave Dara to his rounds after a couple of hours of slowing him down, so that he can get back up to speed and visit the rest of his clients for the day, helping them to deposit regularly and build good savings habits through offering them a convenient, friendly and fast doorstep service.