Half a million new credit card machines to be installed

Half a million new credit card machines to be installed

550,000 machines to be installed by 2018

Stickers showing a variety of credit cards accepted are displayed on the door of a shop in Bangkok. Authorities expect credit card use to rise this year as the e-payment system takes root. THANARAK KHUNTON
Stickers showing a variety of credit cards accepted are displayed on the door of a shop in Bangkok. Authorities expect credit card use to rise this year as the e-payment system takes root. THANARAK KHUNTON

Credit card spending in Thailand is expected to grow by 5-15% after 550,000 electronic data capture (EDC) terminals are installed under the national e-payment system.

Banks are to begin installing new EDC terminals next month if their consortium wins the installation bid, said Thakorn Piyapan, chairman of Krungsri Consumer, an unsecured loan unit under Bank of Ayudhya (BAY).

Under the plan, the auction winners are required to install EDCs at government offices for the first stage and merchants and private locations in the next phase.

The Finance Ministry aims for 550,000 new EDC terminals to be installed across the country by March 2018. The first phase is scheduled to begin next month.

The government is hoping more people swipe plastic cards to pay for small-ticket items, as low as even 20 baht, using PromptPay, which is part of the national e-payment scheme designed to make Thailand less reliant on cash.

There are two consortiums in the bidding to install EDC machines. The first one comprises Bangkok Bank and Kasikornbank and the other consists of five banks: BAY, Siam Commercial Bank, Krungthai Bank, Thanachart Bank and TMB Bank.

Mr Thakorn does not think the number of credit cards will increase significantly after implementation of the EDC pool as the payment platform transforms towards digital from physical.

Thailand has around 24 million credit cards issued. Krungsri Consumer is the industry's largest credit card player in terms of card base with around 3.8 million in circulation.

In another development, Krungsri Consumer has rolled out a new mobile application, U Choose, to offer cardholders more convenience.

The first phase of the mobile app roll-out focuses on an information base by providing a variety of functions including real-time credit balances, spending updates, payments, card usage alerts, card usage statements, promotional campaigns, reward points and point redemption and monthly payment alerts.

"Normally customers would call a call centre to ask for such information," Mr Thakorn said. "With the advent of the digital platform, we expect to reduce call centre operating costs by 30%."

The company predicts 1 million downloads for the first year of operations, rising to 2 million in the second year, and targets spending growth of 5-10% per card.

Currently Krungsri Consumer's credit card spending per card per month is 5,800-5,900 baht.

The next phase of the app is to develop booking and payment services for customers.

The company wants its card spending growth to nearly double to 13% this year from 7% last year in line with improving economic momentum, its card features and service development.

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