Thai e-payment system to use ‘any ID’ feature

national March 28, 2016 01:00

By NOPHAKHUN LIMSAMARNPHUN
THE N

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To kick off in Sept; seen as boon for business, consumers.



A NATIONAL e-payment system will advance Thailand’s financial infrastructure by another five to 10 years once it is fully implemented, a member of the national e-payment panel said.
The first “any ID” service will be available around September.
Subcommittee member Punnamas Vichitkulwongsa, chief executive of the Ascend Group, said the Cabinet-approved master plan for the national e-payment would increase the transparency and efficiency of the financial system while helping the government collect more taxes.
The national e-payment committee, headed by Deputy Premier Somkid Jatusripitak, is tasked with moving the economy towards a digital future with less reliance on the use of cash.
When the e-payment system is fully operational in 2017, it is estimated the cost-savings for banks and businesses will be around Bt75 billion per year while people, especially those in remote areas, will benefit from easier access to financial services via their mobile phones. 
Each person will have a 13-digit ID number for money transfers, bill payments and other transactions.
It is expected the Any ID programme, which also covers mobile phone numbers and electronic purses, will boost government transparency and provide financial assistance to low-income earners while increasing the collection of taxes that include value-added and withholding.
Punnamas said people would be able to use the Any ID feature to pay water and electricity bills, among others, as the Thai Bankers Association was building a common electronic platform for all participating bank and non-bank entities to provide more convenient payment alternatives.
Such a cooperative framework is similar to the national ATM network participated in by most commercial banks.
In addition, the government will use the Any ID feature to provide the public with what is expected to be more efficient healthcare and transport services, as well as other services.
“At present, cash still accounts for more than 90 per cent of all financial transactions and payments in Thailand. There are a lot of hidden costs in using cash. The fees on cash management are around 2-3 per cent,” he said.
“Sweden has announced it aims to be a 100-per-cent cashless society by turning to use digital instead of physical money. If we’re successful in implementing the national e-payment system, we’ll be 5-10 years ahead [of where we would otherwise be] in terms of the financial and payment infrastructure.”
The national e-payment system is expected to boost the country’s international competitiveness because it is believed a more transparent and efficient payment infrastructure will also benefit e-commerce and other digital aspects of the economy.
According to the World Economic Forum, e-payment helps reduce business costs and corruption while increasing the ease of doing business.
Punnamas, who is also president of the Thai E-Payment Association, said the group had 19 member companies which provided digital payment services, including telecom, social media and payment businesses.
It is expected the availability of nationwide 4G telecom services this year will further boost e-payments and e-commerce because it will result in the Internet connection on mobile phones being around five-times faster than current 3G services.
At present, 45 per cent of the population has a 3G Internet connection. 
Due to the faster mobile Internet, more e-commerce transactions will be conducted on cellular networks than on Wi-Fi at home or the office, according to Punnamas.
He said this would allow e-commerce operators to provide a more convenient and personalised shopping experience to customers, along with more choices for e-payments, since many Thais were still reluctant to use credit cards due to security concerns.
At present, most e-transactions are bill payments, pre-paid cards for telecom services and on-line purchases of both physical and digital goods.

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