Thailand: Ministry stretching PromptPay borders
The Finance Ministry is pushing electronic payment systems into Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar and Vietnam to help Thai financial institutions access customers in these countries without opening physical branches there.
The government is designing the country’s e-payment system to be able to connect with neighbouring countries in the sub-region, said Finance Minister Apisak Tantivorawong, without giving a specific time frame.
The Finance Ministry recently said the Bank of Thailand is in talks to link the country’s PromptPay system with Singapore’s PayNow to allow users in both countries to send money to each other using mobile phone numbers. Cross-border fund transfers are the next step for PromptPay, a cheap fund transfer service that requires only mobile phone numbers or citizen IDs.
PromptPay, initiated early last year, is part of the national e-payment scheme, designed to move Thailand towards a cashless society in tandem with the government’s Thailand 4.0 model. With PromptPay, money transfers via ATM machines and online channels are free for up to 5,000 baht; 5,001-30,000 baht transfers are charged a fee of up to two baht; 30,001-100,000 baht transfers cost up to five baht; and transfers exceeding 100,000 baht are charged no more than 10 baht.
He said PromptPay helped not only improve the country’s payment system efficiency but also transform Thailand into a cashless society.
All state agencies will adopt the e-money system, enabling them to pay and get paid through the digital system by year-end, he said.
In the early stages of the e-payment system, the government might suggest people who are not familiar with the system make payments to state agencies through ATMs or e-wallets, he said.
Moreover, all welfare and subsidies will soon be provided through the electronic system as objections to the programme following recent fraud from the use of welfare cards for low-income earners has receded, he said.
The Revenue Department is developing an e-tax system to prepare for all taxpayers’ refund filings and enabling the system to automatically make tax settlements will be the next step, he said.
In the meantime, Mr Apisak said the government will not leave small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) behind, even though the Eastern Economic Corridor development is the government’s focus.
While large corporate companies should adopt technology to reduce headcount, SMEs will hire workforces in the future, he said, noting that the government has provided financial support to SMEs to adopt new technology, but uptake remains slow.