January 11, 2014 00:00 By NOPHAKHUN LIMSAMARNPHUN
STATE-OWNED KRUNGTHAI Bank, the country's second-biggest commercial bank in terms of assets, has adopted measures to cope with anti-government demonstrators' plan to shut down Bangkok beginning on Monday.
Rungjit Punnahitanont, a senior executive of KTB, said: “We have a total of 27,000 employees nationwide, including more than 10,000 in Bangkok. Our headquarters are also on Sukhumvit Road’s Soi Nana Nua, which is one of the 20 areas that will be closed by the anti-government rally” led Suthep Thaugsuban’s group and others.
“All inner-city areas and business districts will be affected. Our top priority is to ensure that our customers are not hit by this political event.
We need to provide the same services we do now with the least possible disruptions. In Bangkok’s metropolitan areas, we have more than 200 branches.
Of these, more than 100 will be affected because they are located inside the 20 areas that will be sealed off.
“In addition, we have several hundred ATMs in these 20 areas, including those in shopping malls, office buildings, convenience stores and so on. Some customers may have difficulty accessing these ATMs, so we will give them advance information on alternative sites.
“For example, one of the seven main stages that will be set up by protesters is at the Asoke intersection.
For customers in this and nearby areas, we will advise them to use ATMs on Sukhumvit Soi 23 and other alternative sites.
“This information will be available on our websites, social media and announcement signs at our branches and ATM locations. Customers can access information via smartphones from our website, Facebook page and so on.
“Another challenge is to ensure that there is always enough cash in the ATMs, so we have to prepare extra measures to ensure that our cash-delivery team can access the machines to fill the boxes.
“We may have to increase the amount of cash inside the ATMs, which are usually filled every one, two or three days depending on demand. Usually, we fill each ATM with a minimum of Bt400,000 worth of banknotes to a maximum of Bt6 million.
If there is no access problem, we can usually get the money into the machines within an hour.
“Besides the customers, we are focusing on measures to ensure our employees’ safety during the shutdown period, which we are not sure how long it will last. For those who work at our head office on Sukhumvit Road, they are advised to come to work by mass transit such as the BTS [Skytrain]. If they cannot access the head office, then they should go to a number of alternative sites set up nearby that will allow our people to work online.
“We have devised an emergency plan for each of the departments, such as IT, cash management, and branch operations. For non-core business operations, employees are advised to work at home during the period.
“In fact, we gained some experience during the previous unrest three years ago. Now every bank has a business continuity plan to avoid business disruption.
“We are also advising our customers to conduct urgent, important businesses before the shutdown. During the week of January 13-17, we ask them to prepare for inconveniences, which may affect the flow of their business operations. Buying chequebooks or opening letters of credit, for example, could be done in advance.”