By Sirivish Toomgum
The focus of TMB Bank’s digital banking platform, ME by TMB, will this year offer a complete digital banking experience that allows customers to save and manage their money easily through digital channels, said Benjarong Suwankiri, head of ME by TMB/ product and service strategies.
“Local customers are now more ready to move towards a full digital banking experience to save, transact, invest, and be protected against future uncertainties. Within this year, ME will gradually roll out new financial products, promising high investment returns for our customers and a full digital experience, catering to the financial needs of the younger generation,” he added.
Creating a 100% digital experience means boosting transparency, flexibility, security, and providing more benefits to the customers, he said.
Benjarong added that ME wants to inspire and assist the new generation to save and manage their money themselves through a 100% digital experience.
“We hope to grow the number of new customers who are ready to use digital technology to meet their financial needs and want to stay free from a bank branch and its operation hours. To achieve that, ME’s products and services must be simple, easy to use and practical, focusing on making customers’ digital lifestyle easier," he said.
He said unlike other digital banking services in the industry, ME products and services are specially developed for digital process and operations. The bank didn’t simply transfer branch operations into online application and then let customers finish their transactions at branches. They must be 100% digital, while offering convenience and be able to serve transactions anywhere anytime without the presence of the customer at the bank.
When TMB launched the ME platform six years ago, the bank found that both customers and regulations were not yet ready for a complete financial digital experience.
“We spend those years in educating the market of how a 100% digital banking was possible, and that it should be the future for the banking industry. Today, as evident from the wide use of Promptpay and the government’s National EPayment scheme, it is clear that the market is now more open to the concept,” he said.
PromptPay is an industry-wide banking service for money transfer, using only mobile phone number or ID number of the recipient. The service was launched in Thailand early last year.
He said the continued push towards a cashless society, with QR code payments and lowering of the digital banking transaction fees among banks, will lead to wider adoption of the mobile payment channel.
Looking at the global trend of digital banking, Benjarong said: “we see stronger trend towards digital banking. In some markets, the government leads the initiatives, as in Thailand, creating an ecosystem that both banks, fintechs (financial services through technology), and techfins (technology companies that provide financial services) can coexist and compete for the benefits of customers,”
“In some countries, such as the Philippines and in a few African nations, we also see the potentials of digital banking in helping expand the access into unbanked or untapped markets. We are only now scratching the surface of the potentials of what a wholly-digital bank can offer,” he added.
He said that while digital banking is new, and Thailand is in its early stage, the banks must be careful not let the new technology mislead them from the real needs of customers.
“Technology must be used to help address customer experience and services that otherwise would not have been possible. Hence technology is for customers’ sake, not for technology sake. We demonstrated this through our value proposition to give higher interest rate back to customers because digital technology means that ME doesn’t have to carry large operating expenses of its physical network,”
“When we focus on delivering such values through digital channels to customers, digital banking will then start becoming a norm for more than just transactions,” he added.
“Of course, digital banking is new in Thailand, hence there are uncertain elements to resolve before all regulations can be relaxed. However, given we are only at an early stage of digital banking, we can learn from the experiences of other advanced economies to enhance our view of risks and controls.”