Tuesday, 14 July 2020

Thailand’s digital revolution transforms the country into a high-income nation

By Matthew Dooley

The age of e-commerce, big tech, social media and fintech has dawned on Asia and Thailand is at the epicentre of this wave of industry disruption

Thailand has outpaced other developing and developed nations to position itself as a leader in the digital financial marketplace. With a gross domestic product (GDP) worth $602 billion, Thailand is the second largest economy in Southeast Asia, surpassed only by Indonesia.

What makes Thailand a breeding ground for e-commerce and digital financial services is its great number of internet users (57 million), their high use of social media and e-commerce coupled with Thailand’s growing middle class with a higher acquisitive power.

Thailand’s industry and consumer experience is fast changing along with the country’s digital revolution. The open ecosystem of the future will feature apps and platforms which will challenge the traditional offerings of the local banks. The successful financial services firms will be required to assume a position that aligns their core capabilities with the needs of Thai millennial consumers and the external operating environment.

Big tech players and platforms in China and across Asia are also shaping ecommerce, health, payments and financial experiences in Thailand, enhancing the value for each of these roles by leveraging data and expanding into non-financial products and services.

In this year’s Thailand Innovation Study Tour, eight institutions opened their doors and shared how they individually applied different platforms, apps and ecosystems to improve how they run their business and provide service to their customers.


Krungsri Finnovate

Krungsri Finnovate is a corporate venture capital arm of Krungsri, Thailand’s fifth largest bank and a joint venture with Japans largest bank, MUFG. Founded in May 2017, Krungsri Finnovate aims to help fintech startups grow to reach their goal through synergy from Bank of Ayudhya’s asset. It also offers consultation to every startup that develops products for Krungsri Group in terms of small and medium-size enterprise (SME) loan, personal loan, credit card, home loan, auto loan, funds or securities, and other related financial and banking sectors.

It also raised two initiatives to accelerate Thai fintech startups growth: Krungsri RISE and Krungsri Uni Startup. Krungsri RISE is Thailand’s first corporate fintech accelerator centre. It aims to enhance the capacity of Thai fintech startups to be at regional level. Krungsri Uni Startup is the contest of application/website development and business plan held by Bank of Ayudhya PCL and affiliates. It offers enthusiastic students a chance to present the products beneficial for financial technology users such as financial planning, credit card management and software for SMEs and e-commerce segment.


Central Tech

Central Tech is the technology innovation department of the retail conglomerate, Central Group. Supported by the biggest family-owned retail in Thailand, Centre Tech offers a strong tech arm to drive its parent company to be the leader in retail technology. They have expanded to Thailand Vietnam, Germany, Italy, Denmark, and many other countries, providing solutions involved in e-commerce and omni-channel platform establishment, retail innovation and digital academy. Guided by the version of being the first in retail technology, Central Technology Organisation, as a part of Central Group, leverages technology to transform clients operations to enhance customer experience.


Digital Ventures

Digital Ventures, a subsidiary of The Siam Commercial Bank (SCB), was established in February 2016 to discover innovations and redefine banking from a digital perspective.

The company has engaged in over 800 startups and more than 60 venture capital funds in nearly 30 countries. Their business model can be divided into four aspects: invest on startups, innovate and develop on fintech products, the training program for startup entrepreneurs and university-corporate corporation program.


United Overseas Bank

United Overseas Bank (UOB) is committed to providing quality products and excellent customer service. Founded in 1935, UOB has a well-established regional presence, particularly in Asia with its network in Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand and China. Today, the UOB Group has more than 500 offices in 19 countries and territories in Asia Pacific, Western Europe and North America. As part of UOB, UOB (Thai) is a regional bank rooted in Thailand that brings financial expertise and connectivity to its customers. It is rated among the top banks in Thailand by Moody’s Investors Service and Fitch Ratings.


Ngern Tid Lor Company Limited

Established in Thailand, Ngern Tid Lor Company Limited (NTL) provides clients with title loans using automobiles as collaterals and nano-financing to the under-banked customer segment since 2006. It is a subsidiary of Bank of Ayudhya Public Company Limited, a strategic member of MUFG. With over 850 branches nationwide, NTL serves as a reliable source of financing to the under-banked Thai population, offering them better choices in times of financial difficulty. NTL focuses on low-income customers and has helped over 500,000 recipients. Now their business has developed and innovated from auto-for-cash loan providing to auto-related products.


True Digital Park

True Digital Park is touted as Thailand and Southeast Asia’s largest startup and tech entrepreneur hub that houses entrepreneurs, tech companies investors, accelerators, incubators, academies, government agencies and big tech companies under one roof. Founded by True Group in 2016, True Digital Park has grown into an important global hub for digital innovation partnering with many tech giants and large corporations such as Huawei, Epson and Google. Three areas feature the entire ecosystem for True Digital Park, campus area, lifestyle area and residential area. Within the campus area – spanning over 200,000 squares – there are four fully integrated spaces for co-working: the Enterprise Space, the Innovation Space, and space for events and business services.

True Digital Park plays a significant role in Thailand 4.0, which is a national strategy to elevate Thailand into a high-income nation, reduce inequality and promote environmentally sustainable growth and development. To fulfil the vision, it is critical to support a transition from industry-driven economy to the digital-driven economy.


Ananda Development

Known as the famous property developer in Thailand, Ananda Development was established in 1999 and listed in 2012, specialising in high-rise residential condominiums located within the central Bangkok metropolitan area. The core business of Ananda Development is its condominium projects, mainly located near railway mass transit stations in Bangkok and its peripheral areas. It also develops land housing and manages real estate development projects.

Ananda Development places great importance on technology as the key driver that can provide change and solve problems in every aspect of businesses. One example is the application of cloud technology in the inspection process.


TMB Analytics

TMB Analytics implemented the digital transformation program, which included the development of digital branding, agile organization, IT infrastructure, data analytics and searching for the right digital partnership in order to enhance the competitive advantage by keeping up with the pace in a digital-driven era.

Thailand owes its overall digital growth to technologies such as machine learning, AI and blockchain. Their application into different institutions became useful in improving efficiency, fostering innovation, and boosting the quality of production and distribution of financial services across the country’s wider e-commerce, health, property and social platforms.

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