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BOT prepares for mobile banking agents

Central bank rejects online rumours of new licences as small loans permitted.

THE BANK of Thailand (BOT) will next month announce its rules and regulations in the Royal Gazette to allow commercial banks to appoint banking agents for small transactions not exceeding Bt20,000 per customer per day in a bid to widen financial services nationwide.
However, no new commercial banking licences will be issued at this stage, according to Somboon Chitphentom, an assistant governor of the central bank. Somboon held a press conference yesterday following speculation on social media that a convenience store chain would soon provide banking services.
Social media users shared an apparently inaccurate report claiming that the central bank would grant a new banking licence to the 7-11 convenience store chain. The reports were accompanied by images of a Japanese “Seven Bank”.
The central bank corrected the false report, noting its own “Counter Service” brand, which acts as a payment agent for all Thai commercial banks. In addition, Counter Service is an agent for Kasikorn Bank customers who want to transfer money to people in remote areas where there are no bank branches.
Based on the new regulations, which will be issued next month, commercial banks would also be able to appoint other banks, special-purpose financial institutions, the postal service Thai Post and other legal entities whose qualifications meet the central bank’s requirements as their banking agents.
These authorised agents would be allowed to provide limited financial services for small transactions.
Somboon said the central bank’s plans were limited to allowing banks to appoint additional mobile banking agents in remote areas where people find it hard to access other licit financial services.
A banking agent can perform only very limited financial transactions covering only deposit and withdrawal services and financial payments for small retail customers, according to the central bank. 
Each transaction is capped at Bt5,000 and transactions for a single client could not exceed Bt20,000 per day.
Earlier, Ruchukorn Siriyodhin, the Bank of Thailand’s deputy governor, also said that the central bank has no policy to issue additional banking licences.
According to a Bank of Thailand study, there are about 300,000 financial services points across the country, but most banking services are generally available only in urban areas and big cities.
With far fewer service points in remote areas, the central bank believes that there are already incentives for commercial banks to appoint banking agents to serve customers living there.
There are now four licensees under the existing banking agency rules – Boonterm, Term Sabai, Counter Service and AirPay Thailand services.

Published : February 19, 2018