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The National Bank of Cambodia has a rich and complex history which can be divided into four distinct periods.

- 1954 to 1964: Cambodia gained independence from the French protectorate in 1953 and the National Bank of Cambodia was established. The NBC gained autonomy of printing riel as the national currency as well as managing the banking system in Cambodia.

- 1975 to 1979: The National Bank of Cambodia was closed due to the Khmer Rouge regime. The building was destroyed, the banking system collapsed, and the use of Khmer riel notes was eliminated.

- 1979 to 1993: Rebuilding the National Bank of Cambodia from scratch and reissuing of the Khmer riel in circulation. Transitioning from a centrally planned economy to a free market economy.

- 1993 to Present: Gradually the banking system was strengthened and modernized and Cambodia becomes one of the strongest growing economies in the world.

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    The National Bank of Cambodia was established on December 23, 1954, after the country gained independence from the French Protectorate and after the Institut d Émission (the printing house for the three Indochine countries was closed).
  • Before then, the Institute d'Émission, located in Cambodia, printed one currency for the three Indochine countries (Cambodia, Laos and Vietnam).
  • After independence, the NBC printed its own national currency, the Khmer riel in order to have complete sovereignty of Cambodia's monetary stability and to help build the identity of the nation. At the same time, the local banking system was being established, in which state banks and private banks started operating together.
  • Under King Norodom Sihanouk's Sangkum Reastr Niyum era in the 1960s, development flourished in the kingdom. In 1964, the banking system was reformed to meet the nation's growing economic and development needs. As such, the National Bank of Cambodia became a semi-autonomous institution to the state-owned bank, under the form of the public entity with characteristics of industry and commerce. Meanwhile national and foreign private banks were closed, and the government established some state-owned banks such as the Inateancheat Development Bank, and the Rural Agricultural Bank.
  • KHMER ROUGE (1975 - 1979)

    On April 17th, 1975, the National Bank of Cambodia was closed when the Khmer Rouge regime came into power. The NBC building was destroyed, the banking system was eliminated, and the use of riel banknotes was abolished. On January 7, 1979 the Khmer Rouge regime collapsed and the NBC was reestablished as the central bank of the country on October 10, 1979. It was renamed the "People's Bank of Kampuchea" by the Council of the Revolutionary People of Cambodia. However, rebuilding the bank and the nation was extremely difficult soon after the war. With an effort in overcoming the obstacles of reconstructing a new banking system from scratch, H.E. Chea Chanto, Senior Minister and Governor of the National Bank of Cambodia (and one of the initial founders of the NBC), along with a few of the staff who survived, committed to rebuilding the NBC.
  • The challenges soon after the Khmer Rouge regime were enormous. Since many intellectuals were killed by the Khmer Rouge or fled the country after the war, there was very little knowledge, expertise, and experience to draw from. Some qualified survivors that did remain in the country were mentally frightful of working since they feared the Khmer Rouge could return. In addition, there was a severe lack of financial resources.

    As the economy was still weak and money supply was virtually non-existent due to the Khmer Rouge's policy, economic activities were still largely conducted on a trade and barter system, and civil servant salaries were paid in available local commodities (rice, fish, oil, gas, etc.). It wasn't until March 20th, 1980 when the People's Bank of Kampuchea reissued the riel banknotes to facilitate the exchange of goods and the payment of civil servant salaries. Despite these challenges with every day, month and year that passed the NBC staff continued to move forward in reestablishing the nation's bank piece by piece.

    During the 1980s, the People's Bank of Kampuchea had three basic functions; be the monetary authority, serve as the National Treasury, and provide banking services including credit, deposits, and a payment system. Since the NBC building was nearly demolished by the Khmer Rouge, the temporary head office of the bank was opened on the upper floor of the Khmer Bank of Commerce. The People's Bank of Kampuchea set up the leadership structure as well as the operational activities. Furthermore, the bank extended to 20-provincial and municipal networks across the country. Since 1989 the banking system was gradually reformed through transforming the 20-provincial and municipal banks into specialized provincial and municipal banks and operating with economic and financial autonomy in their territory. As the monetary authority, the People's Bank of Kampuchea supervised the operations of these banks. As for the ruined NBC building, it was removed and rebuilt in 1990.
  • In 1991, the first commercial bank (Cambodia Commercial Bank "CCB") was established under the form of a state joint venture bank to attract investors and serve the activities of the United Nations Transitional Authority in Cambodia (UNTAC). The Paris Peace Accord on October 23, 1991 transformed the economic regime from a planning economy to a free market economy.

    On January 30, 1992, the National Assembly of Cambodia adopted the Law on the Change of Organization's name and duty of the bank of Cambodia from the "People's Bank of Kampuchea" back to the "National Bank of Cambodia", which was promulgated by the council of state in February 8, 1992.

    The NBC compiled and prepared the Financial Sector Blueprint for 2001-2010. The document served as the foundations for the Financial Sector Development Strategy to increase the public's confidence of the banking system and how Cambodia can be better integrated into the global financial system. As the nation's central bank, in order to raise its influence and prestige, the NBC building was again renovated in 2003.

    Cambodia's banking system has made remarkable progress since the second half of the 1990's when the Law of Organization and Conduct of the National Bank of Cambodia, the Law on Banking and Financial Institutions, and other laws and regulations, as well as other key banking reforms were implemented.

    Presently, the banking system in Cambodia comprises of 36 commercial banks, 11 specialized banks, 7 foreign bank representative offices, 39 microfinance institutions (including 7 microfinance deposit taking institutions), 38 rural credit operators, 6 leasing companies, 1 credit bureau company, 6 third party processers, and 1,770 money changers. Banking and financial institutions have continued to expand their operating networks through the opening of representative branches and offices in the capital and provinces, and installing Automatic Teller Machines (ATM) in addition to electronic payment services.
  • Cambodia's banking system has come a long way; from building the foundations of a banking system soon after independence, to the destruction of a monetary system during the Khmer Rouge regime, to paying civil servant salaries with rice and fish soon after the regime, to building an increasingly well managed and sophisticated banking and financial sector from scratch.