The Cambodian hire-purchase subsidiary of Aeon Thana Sinsap (Thailand) or Aeonts has become the first Japanese financial firm to receive a specialised bank licence to do credit-card business in the neighbouring country, according to a statement to the Stock Exchange of Thailand.
Aeonts is a Thai unit of Tokyo-based Aeon Financial Service.
Aeon Microfinance (Cambodia), in which Aeonts owns 80% and the Tokyo parent 20%, received a specialised bank licence from the National Bank of Cambodia late last month.
The company will be renamed Aeon Specialised Bank (Cambodia) and re-register its business type to become a specialised bank.
It plans to start providing credit-card service next January.
Aeon Cambodia has done business in the country since 2011, offering hire-purchase plans for durable goods such as TV sets.
In the future, it will leverage its experience in hire purchase to develop the credit-card business.
"We aim to provide Cambodian customers with convenient financial service," said Akinori Yamashita, president and chief executive of Aeon Financial Service Co.
The company has registered capital of US$10 million and 420 employees providing hire-purchase, lending and eventually credit-card services.
An analyst said two other Thai hire-purchase firms — Group Lease Plc and Thitikorn Plc — were focusing on motorcycle hire purchase, their strength in Thailand.
Aeon Cambodia's core business is retail shopping malls, while hire purchase is a supporting unit.
The analyst named Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar and Vietnam as major Asean destinations for hire purchase, with rising demand for motorcycles and electrical appliances in line with the countries' developing economies and growing middle classes.
AEONTS shares closed yesterday on the SET at 100.50 baht, up one baht, in trade worth 11.9 million baht.