Thailand to expand cross-border digital payment facilities: BOT

THURSDAY, MAY 16, 2024

Thailand would continue to expand cross-border payment collaboration worldwide, to make it convenient for Thais and foreigners in terms of time and cost, a senior Bank of Thailand (BOT) official said on Thursday.

BOT deputy director of the payments and fintech department, Pariwat Kanithasen, made the remarks while speaking at a seminar titled "Cross-Border Payment, Now and Beyond". It was part of the 24th Money Expo Bangkok 2024, which began on Thursday and will run until Sunday at the Impact Arena, Exhibition and Convention Centre in Muang Thong Thani, Nonthaburi province. 

Pariwat explained that cross-border payments were a part of the BOT's efforts to improve the country's digital finance ecosystem. The move has been gradual over the last few years, beginning in 2021 when Thailand first allowed PromptPay, a national-based digital payment system, to be used for both remittance and QR payments in Singapore.

Thailand's PromptPay is currently valid in eight economic territories: Cambodia, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia, Laos, Singapore, and Vietnam. BOT is now actively working with other countries in the region to create QR code-based payment links. Tourists and residents can now use their mobile banking apps to scan QR codes and pay directly at cross-border merchants. 

"We are now discussing increased collaboration with other countries, including China. If an agreement is reached, it would greatly benefit both parties in terms of trade and economic development," he said.  

(right) Pariwat Kanithasen

He said the BOT’s priority was to promote convenient, secure, and affordable cross-border payments. The move is intended to encourage the use of local currency rather than relying solely on US dollars, by facilitating cross-border transactions in local currencies. This lowers foreign exchange risks and fees.

Meanwhile, in recognition of the importance of digital solutions, the BOT has developed roadmaps and policy papers that emphasise the creation of a digital payment landscape to streamline cross-border financial transactions.

"Overall, we aim to create a more integrated ASEAN financial region with faster, cheaper, and safer payment options," he said. 

The seminar highlighted one of the Money Expo's objectives, which was to make it easier for Thai citizens to access financial products and services through digital technology.

Thailand to expand cross-border digital payment facilities: BOT

Digital finance for all

Thailand's digital finance adoption is accelerating, with more than 320 million digital accounts registered by 2023, Money Expo chairman Santi Viriyarungsarit said at the event's opening ceremony on Thursday morning.

This was proof that the country's infrastructure and digital ecosystem were well-prepared and ready for people to use.

Under this year's theme, “Digital Finance for All”, he pointed out that the Money Expo, along with its partners, would focus on informing attendees about various digital tools that would assist individuals and businesses in accessing financial products and services that were compatible with their needs and lifestyle.

Santi Viriyarungsarit

Referring to the use of technology to change the way financial services are delivered and accessed, he believed that digital finance has the potential to make financial services more accessible, cost-effective, and efficient for all.

Pakorn Peetathawatchai, the newly appointed president of the Stock Exchange of Thailand (SET), agreed. Digital finance is a rapidly evolving field, with new applications and innovations constantly emerging, including in the stock market, he said. 

Pakorn Peetathawatchai

Citing a recent SET report, he said that 92% of SET activities and transactions in 2023 were conducted online.

The findings demonstrated the importance of digital facilities in providing more convenient channels for people to access financial services.

"Digital plays an important role in improving our efficiency and providing more services, allowing more people to access Thailand's capital market. This will undoubtedly help to promote the stock market as a high-quality platform for fundraising, investing, and alternative saving," he said.


Thailand to expand cross-border digital payment facilities: BOT

Lack of financial literacy

According to BOT, despite the rapid mass adoption of digital tools in financial services following the implementation of PromptPay, the country's digital finance landscape still faces some challenges. One of the major issues is a lack of financial literacy. Many Thais may lack the financial literacy to navigate complex digital financial products and services. This can expose them to scams or poor financial decisions.

The National Economic and Social Development Council recently proposed improving financial literacy and regulation by educating households about responsible borrowing and savings, enforcing prudential standards and consumer protection laws, and limiting predatory lending practices.

Thailand to expand cross-border digital payment facilities: BOT

To help educate the public about digital finance and financial literacy, Santi confirmed that the Money Expo would be held in five major cities other than Bangkok later this year. They are: Nakhon Ratchasima, Udon Thani, Hat Yai,  Rayong, and Chiang Mai.

He and Pakorn said the event would be a great opportunity to learn about digital finance and other current financial trends. They also promised a slew of promotions and special package offers from major banks and non-bank companies at the events.