By Sucheera Pinijparakarn
The new micro-branches will be opened at HomePro stores, a strategic partner of LH Bank. In addition to 77 branches at present, the bank plans to open 29 more at HomePro stores, president Sasithorn Pongsathorn said.
As at the end of this year, LH Bank will have a total of 106 branches, and will increase them to 112 by the end of the first quarter next year, she added.
She said the cost of opening a micro-branch was only one-third of the Bt8 million to Bt10 million required for a full branch.
"To expand quickly and facilitate transactions in traditional products such as deposits, withdrawals, fund transfers and bill payments, we believe the micro-branch is the suitable model for us," Sasithorn said.
The micro-branch can also accept loan applications and deliver them to a full branch for approval.
As at end of the first quarter next year, the proportion of branches in the provinces and Greater Bangkok will be 1:1, she said.
LH Bank is striving to expand its customer base in the provincial market as it believes the micro-branch model would help tap customers upcountry. Currently 45 per cent of its customers are outside metropolitan Bangkok.
LH Bank is also strongly promoting its privilege-banking service for wealthy customers who have Bt5 million in assets under management.
This customer segment accounts for about 30 per cent of the total 110,000 depositors.
The deposit base of LH Bank is Bt100 billion, of which about Bt30 billion is from privilege-banking depositors.
She noted that the depositors at LH Bank had amounts higher than general accounts at other banks by 30-40 per cent.
She said the bank was targeting the proportion of privilege-banking customers to reach 50 per cent after expanding micro-branches and in cooperation with strategic partners in Land and Houses Group such as Home Product Centre, Grand Centre Point Terminal 21 and Centre Point Ploenchit hotels, the hotels under Quality Houses.
"The behaviour of depositors is changing. They are not only depositing in products that generate income through interest but are also looking for returns from funds and insurance. We have designed an e-secretary to help calculate returns from deposits, funds and insurance products for privilege-banking customers," Sasithorn said.