The Bank of Thailand (BOT) on Monday clarified its planned new regulations regarding licensing in the banking sector, after many people had mistakenly understood that it would be granting a new banking licence to the 7-11 convenience-store chain.
Assistant Governor Somboon Chitphentom told a news conference that the misunderstanding had arisen after Japan’s Seven Bank was mentioned in posts on social media.
Seven Bank is a subsidiary of Seven & I Holdings, which is also the parent of 7-Eleven Japan.
However, the BOT only plans to allow banks to appoint banking agents in remote areas where people find it hard to access financial services, and has no policy to issue further banking licences as such, he stressed.
A banking agent can conduct very limited financial transactions covering only a deposit and withdrawal service and financial payments for retail – individual – customers, according to the central bank.
Each transaction is capped at Bt5,000 and one client cannot undertake transactions of more than Bt20,000 per day, he added.
BOT Deputy Governor Ruchukorn Siriyodhin, who supervises the Financial Institutions Stability Department, earlier said the central bank currently had no policy to grant banking licences to anyone.
The central bank merely plans to offer banking-agent licences, which private companies, other institutions or individuals could apply for, she said.
Her comments came after a news report had falsely suggested that 7-11 convenient stores would get banking licences.
Ruchukorn explained that banking agents would only be allowed to conduct much more limited types of financial transactions than the banks could do.
Potential banking agents must also have a risk-management system in place, she added.
The central bank has been preparing to issue such licences as it wants people in remote areas to be able to access financial services.
A BOT study found that there were currently about 300,000 financial-service points across the country, but that banking services were largely concentrated in areas such as large cities, with far fewer service points in remote areas.
The central bank has also conducted a study into the potential for organisations and individuals to be appointed as banking agents.
Details will be released on Wednesday.