Embracing digital mobility to achieve|competitive advantage 

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The newly emerging “Digital Mobility” trend offers a less-hassled lifestyle, because smartphone users can now manage a variety of matters via their phones with greater ease and convenience.

One of the major drivers of this lifestyle trend in Thailand is a government policy to promote e-payment services that cut cash management costs. That initiative has led to progress among many services. Examples include expanded use of chip-embedded debit cards (EDCs) and more EDC installations at card-accepting merchants, plus the introduction of the PromptPay service and QR code payments, which will surely change customer behaviour. Concurrently, more online services have been devised that allow users to make financial transactions via online platforms.

According to the Bank of Thailand, the number of mobile banking accounts had reached 26.3 million by the second-quarter of 2017, or 52.8 per cent year on year growth. As well, monetary transfers and payment transactions via mobile banking services had surged 99 per cent year on year.

Notably, inter-bank transfer transactions had increased nearly 131 per cent, due in large part to the launch of PromptPay service early in 2017, wherein over 90 per cent of PromptPay transfers were conducted on smartphones. Same bank transfers and payments via mobile banking services had risen 95 per cent and 87 per cent, respectively.

The volume of mobile banking transactions accounts for 61 per cent of all banking transactions, becoming larger than the combined volume of transactions via Internet banking and ATMs.

Mobile banking rolls out

Amid leapfrogging growth in mobile banking services, Kasikornbank has embarked upon strategies to meet this challenge. Being the No 1 Thai digital banking provider, KBank has enhanced their mobile banking capacity for broader service coverage to serve retail and SME customers, as well as e-commerce merchants, seeking fast and convenient trade transactions via three KBank applications.

They include K Plus, which is now Thailand’s single most popular mobile banking application. The number of K Plus users is expected to reach 8 million by the end of this year and 10.8 million in 2018. Most recently, KBank has been promoting QR code payments – an integral K Plus feature – across the country by making it easier for merchants to agree to QR code payment acceptance. Marketing campaigns have encouraged customers to use the QR code payment system. This is another real challenge of leveraging technology to drive change in consumer behaviour.

The goal of K Plus is to transform mobile banking into a lifestyle platform that could better meet all customer needs. In so doing, the lifestyle banking platform employs machine learning technology to analyse and develop guidelines in offering new services in line with customer behaviour. Among these services is marketing data targeting specific customers via the Mobile Life Plus menu on K Plus. In 2018, a cross-border money transfer menu will be added to K Plus – “low-value remittance” will be a new dimension in cross-border money transfer services for retail customers. With this service, customers in Thailand would for the first time be able to transfer money via K Pus to recipients in over 40 countries worldwide, including China, the US, Britain, Singapore, Hong Kong, Australia and the European Union.

K Plus Shop is the only application from any Thai bank designed for merchants to receive payments via QR code. To facilitate over 9 million Chinese tourists visiting Thailand each year, K Plus Shop also allows merchants to receive payments from Alipay and WeChatPay. KBank targets around 2.5 million transactions by Chinese tourists per year. Currently, over 450,000 merchants have downloaded the K Plus Shop application, and it is expected that one million merchants will use it in 2018.

K Plus SME, a mobile banking application for SMEs, gives customers access to information and helps them to conveniently and quickly manage their own business and finances. Entrepreneurs can easily check their account balances, regardless of whether the money comes from an electronic transfer or a cheque, and the app even shows their own returned cheques. The total number of K Plus SME users should reach 420,000 by the end of this year and 500,000 in 2018.

Commercial banks are facing increasing competition from business rivals. Financial institutions, fintech start-ups and other businesses are eyeing to expand into financial services. Banks have to elevate their service capabilities to meet that challenge and facilitate changing customer behaviour. K Bank believes the transformation of mobile banking into a lifestyle platform will be the key answer, responding to the digital mobility trend and new lifestyles around the world today and in the future.

Patchara Samalapa is senior executive vice |president, Kasikornbank. 

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