PromptPay a game changer, says Citi
Technology changes the customer journey, writes Chiratas Nivatpumin
New payment technologies such as PromptPay have had a profound effect in reducing operating costs for businesses and spurring the growth of e-commerce in recent years.
Yet the bigger impact is in how companies are using instant payments to improve their customer experience, said Patrick O'Neill, Citi's Thailand country head for treasury and trade solutions.
He said PromptPay, with 50 million registered users, has been a huge success for Thailand and can act as a "game changer" in how companies transact with customers.
"The concept of eliminating friction points in the client journey is a very powerful and effective way to drive business growth," Mr O'Neill said in an interview with the Bangkok Post.
"With new technology and payments, the number of ways you can reduce those friction points is increasing. Companies can now employ a lot of new ideas on where they engage with their customers."
He said when Uber entered the taxi market in San Francisco, the intent was not only to gain market share, but create a new experience.
"Within four years, revenue from San Francisco was a multiple of the original size of the taxi market in the city. What Uber was able to do was look at the end-to-end problem of moving people and think about how to reduce friction points throughout the process," said Mr O'Neill.
Traditional models such as cash-on-delivery or cash-over-the-counter each impose restrictions on both buyers and sellers, compared with instant payments where payment is made at the time of transaction.
He said in Asia, where credit card usage is relatively low compared with Europe or North America, instant payment also helps increase consumer access to the marketplace.
"You may not have a credit card or even a bank account. But you can have a digital wallet," said Mr O'Neill.
The Bank of Thailand's decision to use an open architecture standardised QR code has also helped the market grow quickly, as any digital wallet or banking application can be used to make payment by scanning a QR code.
"In terms of technology adoption, Thailand by certain measures can be considered a global leader," he said, pointing to metrics such as transactions though e-commerce or mobile platforms or average time spent online.
But while consumers have been quick to embrace PromptPay, companies have been slower in adoption, in part due to legacy issues and security concerns.
Mr O'Neill said to help customers, Citi has adopted more of a facilitator role to help clients understand, plan and adopt new technologies.
"Many times, banks traditionally work with finance and treasury departments. But we find that as we have these new tools, they have a much greater impact on the customer journey of our clients," he said.
Using concepts developed through Citi's Asia innovation lab, the bank organises design-driven workshops with clients to help draw different functions across a customer's organisation, helping map out how technology such as instant payments can improve their customers' experience.
"It is about how to design a better end-to-end journey that the finance team is happy with, that the sales team is happy with, that the IT team is comfortable with and that operations is comfortable with," Mr O'Neill said.
"To succeed in the face of disruption requires many stakeholders within an organisation to be engaged on improving their customer's journey."
He is optimistic that over the next 18 months, greater corporate adoption of new payments tools will push forward growth.
"We don't yet see customer expectations for instant payments [with vendors]. But this will come with more adoption," said Mr O'Neill.