A PLAN by Kasikornbank (KBank) to have petrol stations and mini marts serve as banking agents will be submitted to the Bank of Thailand (BOT) by the end of this month. The lender aims to cut service costs under the move, which is part of its 2018 plan.
KBank president Kattiya Indaravijaya said: “Banking agents have become a service channel to allow easier access for customers at lower costs than those of branch services. Easy services like cash deposits and withdrawals will be opened at the banking agents."
The average cost of branch services is about Bt40 per transaction, while banking-agency services' cost average out at Bt10 per transaction, she said.
The bank has not yet been able to determine the number of banking agencies required, Kattiya said, adding that this depends on the number of branches of its partners that will become banking agents, and agreements.
According to the BOT's regulations, banks are allowed to appoint banking agents without the central bank's approval, but are required to send their plans to the central bank for consideration every year.
This year is the first that requires banks to submit their plans, which identifies forms and the rough number of banking agents, by the end of June.
This year, KBank plans to close some of its existing branches and open new ones, Kattiya said.
Since the beginning of this, about 50 existing branches have been closed and 10-20 new branches have been opened. In the past three years, about 180 KBank branches have been shut down.
“The bank has not set its target for how many branches will be closed. It all depends mainly on behaviour of customers who use services,” Kattiya said. “Although services through mobile banking have increased 100 per cent, transactions through branches have not decreased. The bank has to open branches as customers still use branch services.”
KBank will encourage customers to use so-called easy services such as deposits and withdrawals through automatic machines, digital banking and banking agents instead, she said. The skills of branch employees would be upgraded to for them to provide services such as consulting.
Despite the branch closures, the bank has never laid off employees but has upgraded their skills to for them to provide other services such as resolving debt issues and serving in call centres, Kattiya said. KBank has opened two more call centres in Khon Kaen and Pitsanulok provinces.
Kattiya said that the bank has teamed up with digital training platform startup SkillLane to have KBank staff take over 400 online training courses for knowledge and service improvement.
Through this online training scheme, more than 21,000 KBank staff will have their skills upgraded via elf-directed learning and the bank will reduce its training cost by 10 times. Typically, the bank spends Bt400-Bt500 million on training.