Cashing in on a cashless society

Tech March 18, 2014 00:00

By Asina Pornwasin
The Nation

15,609 Viewed

PaySbuy, mPay and TrueMoney see good times ahead as more people use 'e-money' for everyday needs

Thailand is moving closer to a cashless society in which people use “e-wallets” for a wide range of their daily spending needs, thanks to the readiness of technologies, users, bankers and telecom operators.
All three main telecom operators in Thailand have been running and developing electronic-wallet-on-mobile-phone services – mobile or e-wallets – for almost a decade. They have in that time learned a great deal about development and market readiness, and have been educating users to be aware of and become familiar with e-wallets on their devices. 
Currently, the majority of mobile-phone users in the Kingdom are using mobile e-wallets for at least some of their everyday needs, such as bill payment, buying goods and services, and paying for transportation. 
Online and offline payments via mPay
Supreecha Limpikanjanakowit, managing director of Advanced mPAY – a unit of Advanced Info Service (AIS) – said the country was moving towards a cashless society, with more and more people using electronic money, especially via mobile wallets, to pay for everyday goods and services. 
He said mPay this year aimed to increase its revenue, which comes from transaction fees from merchants and some end-users, by 7 per cent to Bt6 billion. 
The key driver for the company is healthy growth in the use of the firm’s mobile wallet to pay for non-AIS goods and services, which is expected to account for 25 per cent of its revenue, compared with 20 per cent last year. 
Market growth for bill payments and online payments via e-money is expected to rise by 20 per cent this year, he added. 
To use mPay, users need to have an mPay account into which they put money, and then use it as an e-wallet to pay for goods and services, both online and offline. 
Advanced mPAY partners with seven banks to allow users to put cash into mPay via ATMs, mobile banking and Internet banking. 
It has also joined hands with Krung Thai Bank to allow mPay users to pull cash out of their mPay accounts via ATMs and mPay agents. 
“Factors that encourage much more use of mobile wallets include the growth of smart phones, which has lifted online shopping to heavy growth, and the readiness of customers through the encouragement and support of telecom operators and bankers,” said Supreecha.
mPay can be used to pay for AIS services such as mobile top-ups and bill payment, and for non-AIS services, including online service top-ups such as for Line and online games; distant as well as face-to-face online payments; and mobile money transfers. 
“For non-AIS services, we now have over 100 billers that receive mPay; around 30 e-commerce websites that accept mPay; and about 6,000 Thai online merchants [under MasterCard’s merchant network] that allow users to pay with mPay. 
“Also, we have 200 online merchants who partner with AIS, as well as several thousand offline shops [under the Rabbit card network] that receive mPay. Last year, we had around 5,000 outlets accepting mPay offline via NFC [near-field-communication technology], and this year we expect to have around 50,000 outlets receiving mPay via NFC,” said the MD.
Currently, mPay has some 1.6 million registered members, comprising around 1.2 million end-users and 400,000 mPay agents. About 150,000 end-user members actively use mPay each month, with an average monthly transaction value of Bt30,000.
He said that because mobile wallets were aimed at people’s everyday spending of relatively small amounts each time, their main rival was cash. 
E-wallets presently amount to less than 1 per cent of overall cash spending, but this is expected to rise to around 10 per cent in the next five years, he added.
PaySbuy stays focused on online payment
Somwang Luangpaiboonsri, general manager of PaySbuy, an e-wallet and online payment service provider and a subsidiary of DTAC (Total Access Communication), said his company was focused on online payment only, with the aim of continuing to facilitate both small and medium-sized enterprises and the general public when online shopping. 
The company has more than 500,000 registered accounts and more than 10,000 online merchants, which together contribute to the growth of Thai e-commerce and have a total payment value of Bt2 billion. 
This year, it aims to have more than new 1,000 merchants using PaySbuy’s e-wallet service. 
The company also targets growth of 35 per cent, against the 25 per cent achieved last year, thanks to changing consumer behaviour, the expansion of online stores, and booming 3G mobile Internet usage.
These factors mean it is hopeful that transaction value via PaySbuy will rise from Bt2 billion last year to reach Bt2.7 billion by year-end, he said. 
The GM said PaySbuy has three key strategies for this year: to increase online merchant market share to 10 per cent; to increase customer channels and usage; and to enhance security with world-class e-commerce security standards.
New services available this year are cash cards for making online payments, virtual prepaid cards for online shopping with Visa or MasterCard, mobile credit cards for making payments for goods or services via online applications, and payment-on-delivery for goods.
“This year, we will have more cash payment counters, an online instalment payment service, and a new online payment service from overseas providers, such as Alipay,” said Somwang.
He added that smart-phone and tablet usage had increased, encouraging customers to do mobile Internet shopping instead of traditional online shopping via desktop PCs. 
There are also growth trends in the online service segment, such as mobile phones, Web deal business, discount coupons, online games and digital content – all of which will drive the Thai e-wallet market’s expansion this year.
“PaySbuy usage on tablets and mobile phones has increased by 60.66 per cent and 145.8 per cent, respectively, to account for 6.33 per cent and 5.72 per cent of all PaySbuy payments. The rest is accounted for by payment via PCs,” said Somwang.
TrueMoney eyes ‘most preferred e-money’ status
As Thailand moves ever closer to a cashless society, TrueMoney believes there will be 40 million potential users of electronic-wallet services instead of – or alongside – credit cards when it comes to life’s everyday spending needs. 
The company aims to be the most preferred e-money provider in this new society, said managing director Punnamas Vichitkulwongsa. 
“The trend is for more people to use less cash, while using more e-money – and not only credit and debit cards, but also e-wallets, which are increasingly used for online spending and transferring money electronically,” he said.
TrueMoney aims to grow its revenue by 15 per cent to Bt2.15 billion this year via its four key services of top-ups, bill payments, e-wallet and payment gateway. 
The company’s flagship service this year is e-wallet, which is expected to grow by 25 per cent, while bill payments are expected to expand by 22 per cent.
“E-wallet is the trend. It is more convenient, more secure and involves a cheaper fee … If you refill more than Bt2,000 into your e-wallet, there is no fee. Currently, average e-wallet spending is Bt170 per transaction,” said Punnamas.
TrueMoney has 6 million users registered for its e-wallet service, some 100,000 of whom are active via the mobile (60,000 users) and Web-based (40,000 users) channels. It aims to increase the total number of active users for its e-wallet service to 400,000 users. 
Payment gateway is another growth business area because of the high growth of the e-commerce market in Thailand this year, he added. This will increase the number of e-commerce sites that receive TrueMoney’s payment gateway service. 
This year, the company will invest Bt50 million in its back-end systems to support its e-wallet and payment gateway services. 
TrueMoney’s top-up service currently contributes 55 per cent of revenue, followed by bill payment (28 per cent), e-wallet (14 per cent) and payment gateway (3 per cent).