How can I receive online credit card payments in Cambodia?

Over the past four years, we have researched and implemented a wide range of payment solutions for our Cambodian customers and our own projects. In this article, we share an up to date summary of our experiences with the available solutions.

This overview is focused on services that allow receiving international credit card payments to a Cambodian bank account. P2P money transfer services or e-wallets such as Wing, Pi Pay or PayGo are not covered here. It is worth noting that all the solutions presented below are only available to registered Cambodian businesses or organizations.

In 2017, we have released GetLoy Payments, a payment solution integration platform for Cambodian payment gateways providing a one-stop API to accept payments in Cambodia. One of the most popular features of GetLoy is the ability to send payment links thru e-mail, Facebook Messenger or other IM to request payment. Read more in our press release.

MiGS gateways: Cathay United, Canadia and ACLEDA

Cathay United Bank’s Payment Gateway Service, Canadia Bank’s Online Payment Gateway Service and ACLEDA Bank’s E-Commerce Payment Gateway are all based on the MasterCard Internet Gateway Service (MiGS) operated by MasterCard in Australia. MiGS support online payments with MasterCard, Visa and JCB.

Because of this common platform, the payment processing forms and merchant back-ends are virtually identical for all three banks, except for the different logos.

One issue of the MiGS-based payment solutions is not related to the MiGS platform, but to the merchant onboarding procedures of the banks, which can be frustratingly slow for potential merchants. From our experience, it typically takes several months (in some cases as long as half a year) to set up a new merchant account.

A major downside of MiGS itself is the outdated look of the user interface both for payment processing and the merchant backend, which does not fit well with the design of modern websites and does not help to instill trust in the payment process on the side of the customer. The payment interface is also not responsive, making it difficult to complete a transaction from a mobile phone.

The default user interface for the payment processing part can be fully customized using “mode 2 transactions”. This, however, requires the merchant to create their own credit card capturing form, and to process credit card information on their own website, meaning that the merchant must implement rigorous security measures to prevent hackers from stealing their customers’ credit card information.

MiGS offers a highly interesting feature for merchants such as accommodations that only want to charge their customers’ credit cards in case of no-shows and otherwise settle the transaction with cash payments. For so-called “mode 3a/3b transactions”, the payment is processed in two steps – Authentication and Payment. In the Authentication step, the customer enters the credit card details and approves the transaction. At this point, the amount is only getting blocked in the customer’s account. To make the payment (e.g. in case of a no-show), the merchant can perform the Payment step. If the customer instead pays in cash, the merchant can void the Authentication to release the blocked amount in the customer’s account. Like the custom payment processing interface, however, implementing mode 3a/b transactions is complex and requires a highly secure website.

The MiGS Virtual Payment Client also supports several “Advanced Merchant Administration” (AMA) transactions, allowing merchants to refund or void transactions through the MiGS API. From our experience, the Cambodian banks offering MiGS-based online payment solutions do not support all AMA transactions, so merchants interested in using them should inquire about the availability with the bank of their choice.

PayWay by ABA Bank

ABA Bank introduced PayWay in July 2017, making it the newest solution for accepting credit card payments in Cambodia. The platform supports Visa and MasterCard, support for UnionPay cards is expected to be added soon.

Unlike the MiGS-based payment solutions, PayWay boosts a modern, intuitive payment interface that opens in an iframe on the merchant’s checkout page. The interface is customized for each merchant with the merchant’s logo and a highlight color matching the merchant’s website. The looks of the interface help to gain the trust of customers used to the look of payment interfaces of international payment providers like PayPal or Stripe.

Beautiful as it is, the user interface is also a bit of a golden cage, as PayWay does not allow their merchants to use custom payment interfaces.
Like the payment interface, PayWay’s merchant back-end has an intuitive design, allowing merchants to gain a quick overview of pending and completed transactions, and to refund payments with a few clicks. Online refunds are not supported for all issuing banks, however – if the customer’s bank is not among the ones supporting this function, the refund needs to be requested by email to ABA Bank instead. It is not possible to make a refund via PayWay’s API.

A huge advantage of PayWay is the merchant onboarding procedure. ABA Bank has clearly put an effort into making the onboarding as efficient and pain-free as possible, allowing prospective merchants to complete the entire procedure just a few weeks.

PayWay’s pricing is also highly competitive, making it attractive for smaller and larger businesses and non-profits alike. ABA Bank charges an onboarding fee of $ 100, requires no deposit and charges no monthly fee. The transaction fees differentiate between cards issued by Cambodian and international banks and are typically lower than those of the MiGS-based payment solutions.

Update April 27, 2018: PayWay's just launched ABA PAY on their mobile apps, enabling users to flash a QRcode to pay online.

Update July 16, 2018: PayWay has recently changed their due diligence steps especially for the onboarding of merchants who want to accept donations. This caused significantly longer processing times and led to some frustration for prospective merchants, who had to go through too many rounds of emails to find out what documents they needed to provide. We hope that things will get back to normal once the changes have settled in.

Bongloy

Bongloy’ managing director David Wilkie referred to their service as “Cambodia’s PayPal”. First announced in 2014 to launch “early next year”, Bongloy is currently in private beta, testing their services with select customers. Information about the supported payment methods, pricing and document requirements for merchants are not available publicly.

The idea behind Bongloy was to create an API-based online payment solution for Cambodia to accept both domestic and international credit cards. Bongloy’s API is compatible with Stripe, meaning that support for Bongloy can be added to e-commerce platforms that already support Stripe by changing the URLs used in the Stripe integration. This can be done by anyone comfortable with editing source code. A drawback of this approach is that the changes need to be re-applied every time the Stripe integration is updated, which should be done regularly to avoid security issues.

In the past, concerns have been raised about Bongloy due to a fake name (‘Someone Else’) used for registering the domain bongloy.com and other issues. In the meantime, the domain registration has been changed to use a Whois privacy service, and the site is now hosted on Amazon’s AWS.

Furthermore, Bongloy Payments Plc. has been incorporated in December 2017 as a Cambodian Public Limited Company, and the names of their directors, as well as some contact details, are available via the Cambodian business registration directory.

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