Money changers explore related services
Diversification eyed amid restrictions
Money changer companies are exploring new foreign exchange-related businesses to seek new income sources after their businesses have been drastically affected by the pandemic.
SuperRich Currency Exchange (1965), a leading local money changer, has submitted an application for a money transfer and e-money licence with the Bank of Thailand and is awaiting regulatory approval.
The company is also in talks with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) about the possibility of operating foreign exchange services for digital asset exchanges in Thailand, said Piya Tantivachayanon, SuperRich's president.
In 2018, Mr Piya commented on the company's business opportunity in the digital asset realm, saying the company would "offer digital asset exchange [services] for travellers" and had plans to offer an e-wallet service, with a potential business partner helping to develop the technology.
SuperRich has been adopting digital infrastructures in preparation to provide services on a digital platform, covering both the existing foreign exchange business and new business ventures.
The company has allocated an investment budget of around 70 million baht for digitisation and began investment last year. The search for potential business partners in technological development continues.
"This year, the company will mainly concentrate on digital infrastructure development and build up a digital network to prepare for the digital era and new business opportunities in the post-Covid-19 period," said Mr Piya.
He said the pandemic has yielded a heavy impact on Thailand's tourism sector and subsequently stifled local money changing businesses significantly.
The company's foreign exchange volume has plunged to around 800 million baht per month compared with 9 billion baht registered before the crisis emerged.
Controlling operation costs is another key strategy to manage business operations amid the prolonged crisis. SuperRich has been closing physical branches since last year, with a target of 13 branches in the Bangkok metropolitan area by March from the previous target of 49 branches before the crisis erupted.
Another local money changer, Superrich Thailand Forex (SRT Forex), has expanded its business line into international money transfers after receiving a business licence from the Bank of Thailand.
SRT Forex plans to launch its new business within the first quarter, said managing director Sittharmanin Susamawathanakun.
For cross-border remittance services, the company will be focusing on parents who transfer money to children studying abroad and migrant workers working in Thailand who want to transfer money back home.
"The new business will contribute a new source of income, but the business target has yet to be finalised, given the backdrop of several uncertainties. At present, the company's foreign exchange transaction volume has declined only 10%, but it has improved from the first outbreak," she said.
The firm booked zero transactions between April to May last year during the nationwide lockdown imposed to contain the outbreak.
Apart from cross-border remittance services scheduled to launch within the first half, the firm has set up a new unit to provide customers with advisory services and assistance, akin to a call centre.
SRT Forex has also been adopting a digital platform in preparation for related foreign exchange business opportunities. The firm is exploring potential business partners for digital platform development.
Ms Sittharmanin said the firm implemented an early retirement programme last year and reduced its headcount by 20%, while adopting a move to rotate and re-skill workers in preparation for new services. SRT Forex has 12 physical branches following the closure of two branches in a bid to control expenses.