Representatives of the Bank of Thailand and international and local financial institutions break new ground with an agreement on a uniform standard for QR code payments.
Representatives of the Bank of Thailand and international and local financial institutions break new ground with an agreement on a uniform standard for QR code payments.

Deal boosts QR code payments

Economy August 31, 2017 01:00


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A PAYMENT system based on a standardised QR code format will be available nationwide in October, central bank governor Veerathai Santiprabhob said.

The Bank of Thailand yesterday joined forces with international payment operators, banks and non-bank financial institutions to adopt a uniform standard for payment by QR code – a fast-growing means of digital payment.

Veerathai claims the Thai agreement marks the first time that the global payment operators and financial institutions have settled on a common standard for QR code payment.

Payment by QR code has been growing rapidly around the world, particularly in India and China, and this digital alternative is making inroads into the Thai consumer landscape.

Some banks have launched their own applications allowing customers and vendors to use smartphones as a tool for scanning a QR code as a way of paying electronically for goods and services.

 “We want to ensure the same standard is used in order to provide a better service and security for everyone, with QR code payment to be ready for use nationwide in the fourth quarter of this year,” Veerathai said. 

Veerathai contrasted the Thai agreement with practices overseas, noting that the absence of a common standard in some countries has caused inconvenience for users as each financial institution has its own app, which is not compatible with those of other institutions.

The Thai QR code will be used both domestically and overseas, and tourists will also able to use it for payments with smartphone platforms, he said.

“Consumers may need time to adapt but most are familiar with using a QR code for adding friends on Line,” said Veerathai, referring to the popular social media application.

The new payment system forms part of the government’s efforts to promote a cashless society in order to reduce transaction costs.

Since the launch of the government’s PromptPay system early this year, 32 million people have registered to use the electronic payment system, which has so far recorded Bt100 billion in transactions, said Veerathai.

Representatives from American Express, MasterCard, Visa, UnionPay International and JCB International (Thailand) have voiced their support for Thailand to move towards a cashless society.

Veerathai said two Thai banks are testing their QR code payment systems under the central bank's so-called sandbox for regulatory experimentation.

Chatchai Payuganaveechai, president and CEO of Government Savings Bank, said the bank is one of the two that are trying out their offering in the regulatory sandbox. About 1.5 million of GSB’s customers have downloaded the application that supports its QR code payment system and 5,000 vendors have participated, including motorcycle taxi drivers. 

Kasikornbank also has launched a QR code payment system under the central bank's sandbox environment. So far, 2,000 vendors in Siam Square, Platinum Pratunam and Chatuchack Market have linked with Kasikornbank on the service. It plans to expand its vendor base to 200,000 by the end of this year.

Veerathai said a further six banks have applied with the central bank to test their QR code payment offerings.

He said he was confident that the new system would greatly benefit small and medium-sized businesses as they could use the payment information to predict customer behaviour, manage cash flow and product inventories.