Thai Government Joins Private and Financial Sectors to Push Fintech Innovation

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The formation of The Fintech Association of Thailand was announced today at the ‘Positioning Thailand’s Fintech Ecosystem’ conference held at C-asean. The association will see members from the private, public and financial sectors come together to boost Thailand’s fintech potential.

The event was organized by C-asean to promote the launch of The Fintech Association of Thailand in collaboration with:

  • Wisudhi Srisuphan, Thailand’s Deputy Minister of Finance
  • Dr. Veerathai Santiprabhob, Governor of Bank of Thailand
  • Korn Chatikavanij, Thailand’s Former Minister of Finance
  • Tipsuda Thavaramara, SEC Thailand Deputy Secretary-General
  • Teeranun Srihong, Senior Executive Vice President at Kasikorn Bank

And other industry specialists who participated in different rounds of the panel.

Thailand’s sectors must encourage friendly, collaborative competition in order to advance the country’s fintech growth without fear of cannibalization. Traditional industries are being disrupted, which means that Thailand is moving towards a new phase, says Dr. Veerathai.

This is the first year that the Bank of Thailand has received more request to close down bank branches from commercial banks than to launch more branches.

Threat from global players

Thailand should not be wary about competing with other ASEAN countries in fintech, instead, it should be concerned about the influence of global players such as Alipay or PayPal. These global companies have the capacity and outreach to disrupt domestic development. If Thailand is unable to fully accelerate the government’s e-payment platform, PromptPay, then the country could potentially lose access to data and transaction information.

The role of regulators in the success of fintech

Regulators in Thailand are traditionally conservative and hardly deviate from the fine print. However, the Bank of Thailand is working wth the government to relax certain financial regulations.

Regulation should be principle based, rather than rule based. A good regulator must also be an innovation facilitator. Rules cannot be rigid when it comes to technology.

The possibility of forming a ‘sandbox’ was discussed during the roundtable as other countries such as Singapore have launched them to facilitate the growth of fintech startups. The sandbox is to be treated as a lab space or incubator.

Regulation, in regards to fintech should be principle based and not strictly rule based as it will leave no room for innovation. The forum called for regulators to also take on the role of ‘innovation facilitators’. With this in mind, the Bank of Thailand is currently reviewing to revise certain financial regulations with the government.

The Thailand Fintech Association will be able to drive progress for fintech in Thailand, but it must also keep in mind the consumer and infrastructural and regulatory challenges that come with moving towards a changed cashless society.

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