UOB's Asean Consumer Sentiment Study highlights economic concerns in Thailand


United Overseas Bank (UOB) Thailand has unveiled its flagship Asean Consumer Sentiment Study (ACSS) for 2023, shedding light on the economic concerns and digital banking trends in Thailand.

The study reveals that while Thai consumers remain optimistic about the economy, there is growing apprehension about potential economic downturns.

Key findings from the study include:

Overall sentiment among consumers in Thailand is positive.

72 % of respondents express concerns about a potential economic downturn in the next 6-12 months.

Rising inflation and increased household expenses have caused Thai consumers to be more conservative about their finances. There is a shift in financial behaviours; more money is going into savings and investments.

Digital banking and payment channels, particularly mobile banking apps and e-wallets have seen robust growth in Thailand. Thai consumers are willing to share their personal data for personalised banking offers.

Yuttachai Teyarachakul, Head of Personal Financial Services, UOB Thailand, said "The UOB ACSS 2023 provides crucial insights for both consumers and businesses to navigate the current economic landscape. Our focus remains on empowering individuals to achieve their financial goals amidst these uncertainties, leveraging the evolving digital banking ecosystem and capitalising on present economic opportunities."

ASEAN Consumer Sentiment Study (ACSS) is UOB's flagship study analysing consumer trends and sentiments in five countries (Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand and Vietnam).  Now in its fourth year, the 2023 survey was conducted in June. In Thailand, the survey captures the responses of 600 consumers across different demographic groups. 

Financial concerns take centre stage in Thailand

The study highlights that 57 % of respondents are concerned about rising inflation. There has been a notable 14 % increase in worries about higher household expenses and an 11 % rise in concerns about dwindling savings.

Financial preferences are also shifting. The study indicates an interesting trend of the younger generation giving priority to saving and investment. Gen Z are most conservative with 41 per cent plan to save more this year. Gen Y is most focused on investment compared to other age groups.

The uncertainties have caused Thai consumers to be conservative with their finances and investments. 57 % of respondents track their spending and money more closely via an online banking platform. More consumers are putting money in low-risk instruments like bank savings and fixed deposits and spreading their investments across non-banking financial instruments.

In response to the survey's findings, UOB emphasises the importance of a long-term approach to wealth planning, focusing on prudence and risk management.

Yuttachai said, "To create lasting wealth, it is imperative to prioritise wealth planning that is suitable with your risk profile, and integrate sustainable financial products into your investment strategy."

Thailand's leading role in digital banking adoption

Thailand stands at the forefront of digital banking adoption within the Asean region. An impressive 61 % of Thai users actively embraced mobile banking apps in the past year, surpassing the regional average. Notably, the preferred payment methods lean towards e-wallets and QR code-based transactions. Equally remarkable, the study reveals that over four in five Thai consumers are actively utilising digital trading and wealth management platforms, with Gen Y taking the lead in leveraging these platforms for investments.

In addition to their enthusiastic adoption of digital banking, Thai consumers are increasingly open to sharing their personal data with banks, seeking personalised services. 89 per cent of respondents favour sharing their data via banking apps more than any other app type, demonstrating a strong desire for tailored product and service offerings.

As a response to these evolving preferences, Yuttachai said, "Our vision of personalised banking is reflected in our AI-driven mobile banking app, UOB TMRW. By drawing out deeper insights from transaction data, the app can personalise the way it serves, converses and anticipates each customer's needs in order to help them with money management. The next phase of the UOB TMRW app is under development. We aim to provide automated and customised investment advisory services, enabling customers to manage their finances more efficiently and intelligently."