Financial companies scramble to harness new technologies

Tech September 15, 2017 01:00

The Nation

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QR CODE payments, robotic process automation (RPA) and blockchain technologies will impact the financial and insurance industries in Thailand next year, according to researcher IDC.

One bank, Krungsri, is focusing on transferring its traditional services to mobile banking with the aim to reach 2.5 million active mobile banking accounts or users next year. 

The bank also set up a US$30 million (Bt993 million) corporate venture capital fund in March, called Krungsri Finnovate, and will disclose next week its first investment in a financial technology startup. 

Michael Araneta, head of research at IDC Thailand, said the three technologies will be popular for banks that will employ them to develop new services to support their customers. 

When QR Code technology is launched in the country next quarter, it will allow banks to facilitate money transfers by their customers via e-payment.

RPA, which is the use of software with artificial intelligence (AI) and machine-learning capabilities to handle high-volume, repeatable tasks that previously required a human to perform, will be a boon for the insurance and banking industries. 

Blockchain technology is an advanced solution for the financial and banking industries to facilitate payment between various areas such as logistics, transportation, cash management and cross-border transactions between banks and non-banks. 

To boost digital transactions, regulators such as the Bank of Thailand, the Insurance Commission and the National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission need to work together so that their regulations run the same direction. Then businesses can provide new services in the digital era to suit the demands and lifestyles of their customers.

“I think that within the next couple years, Thailand will be leading in digital payment since banks and regulators work together to provide new payment channels in the country such as PromptPay and QR Code to support digital payment,” Araneta said.

Takorn Piyapan, head of digital banking and innovation at Krungsri Bank, said the bank has been migrating to digital banking for several years. 

The bank this year will focus on omni-channel digital banking, providing multichannel and digital banking services to support customers. 

It will also leverage its branch transformation that will relocate freestanding branches to community shopping centres and shopping malls, which will be more convenient for customers. It has 665 branches nationwide. 

The bank will continue with process digitisation, under which existing services will be transformed into digital services such as digital lending. 

Out of the bank’s 5 million accounts or users, 1.5 million are active mobile accounts or users. About 2.5 million customers have downloaded the Krungsri mobile application. 

Krungsri Finnovate focuses on payment, personal finance, insurance technology, AI, mobile channel blockchain technology and digital lending.