March 11, 2014 00:00 By Sucheera Pinijparakarn
ME by TMB, Thailand's first-ever self-service banking option, is riding the digital wave by using Internet and mobile banking to lure new depositors.
ME by TMB has grown 20 per cent for two years consecutively. So far that growth has been from a small customer base, but TMB Bank wants to keep the momentum at 20 per cent annually as the base expands.
The challenge over the next two years is to show people how easy it is to use self-service banking, said Rachada Sermsillapakul, head of marketing and sales at ME by TMB.
Five Bangkok branches
ME by TMB has five branches in Bangkok, offering only one savings-deposit product paying interest of 3 per cent per annum.
Depositors are required to open an account at an ME by TMB outlet, and after that they can make additional deposits or withdrawals through the ME by TMB call centre or the Internet.
Around 200 new accounts per day are being opened at the five outlets, Rachada said.
She said there were no plans to open more branches at this stage, despite projections that ME by TMB will soon see about 240 new accounts being opened per day, because TMB Bank’s Internet banking would continue to be used as a new channel to open deposit accounts.
“TMB Internet banking currently has 200,000 users, and people interested in applying for deposit accounts with ME by TMB are not required to come to a branch, as all the information is through TMB Internet banking,” she said.
Rachada said TMB expected 15 per cent of new accounts this year to come through the Internet banking channel.
She said the self-service model was widening in line with improved technologies, adding that the number of customers using mobile and Internet banking was growing after people experienced the convenience of these channels.
“The next channel for acquiring new depositors is applications on smartphones,” she said.
Around 70 per cent of depositors at ME by TMB are aged between 25-45 and most are new entrepreneurs.
Rachada was unable to provide total outstanding deposits but said the average account had more than Bt100,000 and 20 per cent of its customers had been using the model more than 12 months.
She warned that the economic slowdown might see lower deposits among business operators or more withdrawals at ME by TMB.
However, she said the bank expected to see an increase in savings from individual customers because ME by TMB was a safe model with higher returns than the traditional model.
ME by TMB’s 3-per-cent interest rate compares with traditional banks’ 0.65 per cent. She acknowledged that it could be trimmed if the central bank’s policy rate is cut to help boost the economy, but even so, she said ME by TMB’s rate must remain higher than traditional banks’.
The bank is targeting well-heeled Bangkokians, including those with an existing TMB Bank account. Since ME by TMB was introduced in 2011, half of the customers have joined from outside TMB Bank, Rachada said.