Thailand is preparing rules for the setting up of virtual banks, joining peers in the region such as Singapore and Malaysia in promoting financial technology to enhance competition and wider access to banking services.
The Bank of Thailand (BOT) has announced plans to issue guidelines for digital banks by June 2022 and may allow existing lenders and new applicants to seek licenses. The central bank also plans to remove a limit on investment by commercial banks in financial technology, with the exception of digital assets.
Thailand is the latest player in Asia to embrace the concept of virtual lenders as companies like Ant Financial Services Group and Grab Holdings seek investment opportunities in the region. While the country lacks independent virtual banks, local and foreign lenders do offer various digital services in Thailand, including payments. The BOT also announced that it will expand the business scope and flexibility of existing banks.
The BOT has proposed to provide more players access to key financial infrastructures such as the payment system and credit guarantee mechanism at more fair and reasonable costs. It will also finalize guidelines to steer the financial sector to incorporate environmental risk assessment into business operations and support the transition of companies away from unsustainable activities.
(Sources: Aljazeera; Bloomberg)