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Thai Bank to Focus on Tech in 2020

Digital Banking in Thailand

A local bank recently announced that it is prioritising digital banking in Thailand in 2020, setting an aggressive target for all customers to use its mobile banking app this year, its chief stated.

The bank’s new features, promotional campaigns and enhanced convenience and security should attract all customers to the mobile app, the bank’s President and Chief Executive stated during his first press conference since taking the helm in October 2019.

The bank has 500,000 total customers, of which 50,000 are already on the digital platform.

To keep pace with customer demand, the bank’s digital banking app was launched for payment, basic financial and mutual fund transactions. A soft launch of the mobile lending app, targeting personal loans and auto lending, has already been unveiled.

An app for debt consolidation is in the pipeline.

The bank expects unsecured digital loans to expand significantly this year.

The bank lent new personal loans worth THB6-7 billion in 2019, of which 10% were from the digital platform. The proportion from digital is expected to reach 40% in 2020.

A promotional campaign is key to digital banking expansion.

The bank expects to spend around THB500 per head for new client acquisition, so a budget of around THB250 million is needed and is not considered too steep when compared with the opportunities provided by the business expansion.

The bank plans to pare 46 more brick-and-mortar branches, down to 50, by the end of 2020.

The small local bank is targeting a 2020 loan growth of 10%, the same level as 2019.

The bank expects to set aside additional provisions for loan losses for this year, in line with loan expansion and Thailand Financial Reporting Standard 9, the new financial reporting standard.

According to another report, Asia slightly ahead of other regions in developing central-bank digital currencies, with China, Hong Kong and Thailand set to roll out sovereign virtual tokens as a means of payment and to better monitor money flows.

One thing these central banks have in common is that they are all planning to partner with commercial banks in rolling out their digital tokens.

While Hong Kong and Thailand are exploring their use for cross-border payments in bilateral trade, China will, for now, limit their use to domestic retail payments.

OpenGov Asia reported earlier that the monetary authorities of Thailand and Hong Kong are readying themselves to launch a two-tier digital token, part of the process for creating a prototype for cross-border fund transfers between the two economies using financial technology (fintech).

The first tier of the prototype, known as Project LionRock-Inthanon, involves the issuance of a token to Hong Kong banks taking part in the pilot programme, according to a spokesman of the Hong Kong Monetary Authority (HKMA).

The second tier involves the banks distributing the tokens to their corporate customers for settling wholesale payments with other banks, or with other companies.

The two-tier system is a step forward in Project LionRock-Inthanon, which was established in November based on a fintech collaboration between HKMA and Bank of Thailand in May 2019.

The use of the blockchain-backed token is expected to speed up currency settlement between the two economies – with US$19.6 billion in bilateral trade last year – giving companies and banks more competitive exchange rates for the Hong Kong dollar and the Thai baht.

It’s also a different usage case compared with the digital currency under development by China’s central bank, which on replacing coins and banknotes in circulation to support retail transactions.

Thus, Thailand’s banking sector is being revolutionised by the unique innovations being supported and invested in by the governments.


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