The Bank of Thailand has demanded all financial institutions continue providing seven financial services, including deposits, money withdrawals, fund transfers, payments, cash management and settlement systems, in an effort to avoid potential coronavirus-related disruption.
The central bank is requiring banks to rehearse internal operations for several scenarios related to virus outbreak disruptions, the so-called business continuity plans (BCPs), Kobsak Duangdee, secretary-general of the Thai Bankers' Association, said after a conference call between banks and the central bank.
"Banks need to ensure that mobile banking will be available in an emergency," he said. "For branch services, they need to ensure hygienic and sanitation systems to contain the spread."
Moreover, the central bank is letting banks offer additional financial assistance to customers affected by the outbreak to ease their financial burden on a case-by-case basis.
Banks are offering debt restructuring to both individual and commercial clients via several methods, including a grace period for principal, interest rate cuts and debt payment rescheduling.
Mr Kobsak said the government's soft loan measures through the Government Savings Bank (GSB) of up to 150 billion baht will help boost customers' financial liquidity.
Thailand is now in Stage 2 of the coronavirus epidemic.
GH Bank president Chatchai Sirilai said the seven services are considered crucial services that banks must continue operating.
The bank's BCP comprises three parts: first, splitting staff at headquarters into at least two teams and shifts to ensure available employees if one team is infected.
Second, allowing some employees at headquarters to work from home to reduce congestion.
Third, the bank will move its backup facilities online in case of a lockdown of headquarters to ensure that financial services remain available.
Chatchai Payuhanaveechai, president of GSB, said the bank will use its IT system to provide online services in case of a lockdown. Some 86% of its customers make transactions through the electronic channel.
Meanwhile, Bangkok Bank executive chairman Deja Tulananda said the bank has stepped up measures under the BCP.
The bank has prepared readiness for business operations and customer financial services under several scenarios, he said.