Thailand gets closer to 'cashless society' goal

Economy June 16, 2016 01:00

By SUCHEERA PINIJPARAKARN
THE NA

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PromptPay, the first stage of the national e-payment scheme, will be ready on July 15.



Fifteen Thai commercial banks and four state-run banks will allow people to register with the PromptPay service - the first stage of the government’s national e-payment policy - from July 15, although some banks will open for pre-registration on July 1.
Initiated by the Thai Bankers’ Association and the Bank of Thailand, PromptPay is the first stage of the government’s national e-payment policy, which aims to transform Thailand into a cashless society.
Normally, interbank money transfers attract a charge of Bt25 for a transaction of up to Bt10,000, while the fee for making a transfer of between Bt10,001 and Bt50,000 is Bt35.
The 15 commercial banks and four state-run banks will allow people to register with the PromptPay service from July 15, although some banks will open for pre-registration on July 1.
PromptPay requires transferees to link their mobile-phone number or National ID number to their bank deposit account, said Tongurai Limpiti, deputy governor for Financial Institutions Stability at the Bank of Thailand.
The new money-transfer system includes payments made to merchants, with recipients able to provide a mobile-phone number or ID number instead of their bank-account details.
Under the first phase of PromptPay, transferors will not need transferees’ bank details to send money from October 31 onwards.
While the fee for payments will be waived for transactions of up to Bt5,000, there will be a charge of Bt2 for transactions of Bt5,001 to Bt30,000, Bt5 for those between Bt30,001 and Bt100,000, and Bt10 for anything above Bt100,000.
PromptPay’s fees will be applied for bill payment and request-to-pay services under the second phase of the project, which will be implemented in December, said Anuchit Anuchitanukul, adviser to the Finance Ministry’s National e-Payment project.
Meanwhile, Thai Bankers’ Association members are willing to restructure their interbank money-transfer fees to encourage Thais to switch to national e-payments and turn the country into a cashless society, said Predee Daochai, chairman of the association. 
The banks have agreed to maintain fees for all cash transactions until the end of 2019, after which they will be increased in line with the actual cost to encourage consumers to migrate from cash to cashless in order to benefit from a lower fee, he said. Moreover, as PromptPay is not a mobile application because it does not link to the Internet, the system will not be open to cyber-hacking, Anuchit said.
The association and its bank members have jointly invested in laying the infrastructure for PromptPay, along with commitments from all of them to reduce their fees.
When customers see that all players have cut their fees, they will begin to migrate to the new system and the Kingdom will be on the road to a cashless society, he said.
The banks will probably also offer promotions and packages to add value to PromptPay if they want to secure their customer base, as users can move their ID or mobile-phone number to another bank’s deposit account if they are unhappy with their original provider, he added.
PromptPay, as one of the keystones of the National e-Payment project, will in the long run also help prevent corruption because individuals carrying huge cash amounts for deposit or payment purposes will be questioned about the source of the money, the project adviser suggested.