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Trust, a stepping stone towards a cashless society

Jun 11. 2019
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By SPECIAL TO THE NATION

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IN RECENT YEARS, Thais have been talking about moving forward to a cashless society.

According to the 2018 Visa Consumer Payment Attitudes survey, 42 per cent of Thai consumers were carrying less cash than in the previous two years. The number was a big leap compared to the 26 per cent of consumers in the 2017 survey. Furthermore, 40 per cent of consumers said they can manage their daily payment without cash.

Is this a strong signal that Thailand is about to become a cashless society in the near future? And the more important question is: Are we ready yet?

To drive Thailand toward a cashless society, the government has adopted several initiatives, including in 2016 allowing PromptPay, a service that eliminates fees on online banking transactions. This was followed by the cancellation of digital transaction fees in 2018 by Thai commercial banks, which led to tremendous growth in digital banking transactions and in the number of customers, according to the Bank of Thailand. To accompany such expansive popularity, financial institutions have been investing in both at the front end, such as for mobile applications, and at the back end, such as for the infrastructure needed to ensure the best services for their customers.

However, the customer adoption of such technology requires trust, since customers must provide a lot of personal information. In Sweden, where only 13 per cent of people use cash, a nationwide 2018 survey, found they have a deep trust in both institutions and new technologies. For them, the convenience of a cashless system outweighs concerns about the security of their money or personal information.

Without their trust in system security, customers will not feel comfortable doing online transactions and will try to avoid them as much as possible.

The system not only has to be secure, it also has to be available at all time. VISA hardware failure is one of the example of the system becoming unavailable, which has caused outrage among customers across the UK and Europe when they were unable to use their credit cards to pay for goods and services. Customers also need confidence that when they have recently made a payment, their money would not be affected by failed transactions.

 Availability is one of the three key primary computer security requirements, to ensure the system will stand ready whenever the users need it. To enhance customers’ trust in system availability, the BOT launched a new policy requiring every commercial bank to disclose their operational outage statistics so that consumers can select the service that is compatible with their needs. As a result, the competition among banks to improve their system reliability was intensified. 

The other two primary requirements are confidentiality and integrity. Confidentiality is required to ensure no leakage of customers’ information to protect customers from privacy invasion, since all of their transactions are recorded in the system. Integrity is needed to safeguard customers from fraudulent transactions. That is, their payments are made to the right person and no one can steal their money from them. With the current technologies, such as digital id and blockchain, confidentiality and integrity of the system can be maintained. And thus, complete computer security is not out of reach.

Aside from innovating services that serve customers’ needs, a remaining crucial step is to educate consumers on the level of security these technologies can provide. On the day that every service is fully functional, and consumers understand how secure the system is, we are finally ready for cashless society.

Contributed by NUTTAPONG NETJINDA. |He can be reached at tmbanalytics@tmbbank.com. Views expressed in this article are those of the author and not necessarily of TMB Bank or its executives. 

 

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