KBTG sees Vietnam as IT hub
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KBTG sees Vietnam as IT hub

Move is part of bank's regional digital expansion to add employees

Ms Kattiya, centre left, along with executives of KBTG at a press conference for the establishment of KBTG Vietnam, located in Ho Chi Minh City.
Ms Kattiya, centre left, along with executives of KBTG at a press conference for the establishment of KBTG Vietnam, located in Ho Chi Minh City.

Kasikorn Business-Technology Group (KBTG), an arm of Kasikornbank, has established KBTG Vietnam as its IT hub to seek additional personnel to serve its parent's regional digital expansion and support the bank's goal of becoming one of the top 20 banks in Vietnam by 2027.

Located in Ho Chi Minh City, KBTG Vietnam is expected to facilitate Kasikornbank's (KBank) technology development to provide services in Vietnam and elsewhere in the region.

KBTG Vietnam is the second branch of KBTG in Asean and the third in Asia after KBTG in Thailand and K-Tech in Shenzhen, China.

KBTG expects the Vietnam branch will attract more than 500 employees within three years, allowing it to become a regional tech company by 2025 as targeted.

"The AEC+3 region [Asean's 10 member nations plus China, Japan and South Korea] is strategically important with a sizeable consumer market, high proportion of working-age population and growing digital lifestyle, which will be the main thrust for regional economic growth," Kattiya Indaravijaya, KBank chief executive, said at the opening ceremony of KBTG Vietnam on June 22.

KBank is expanding its presence in the region to help broaden opportunities for Thai businesses, she said.

"Guided by our regional digital expansion strategy that focuses on technological development, a strong workforce, investment in startups and key strategic businesses, KBank aims to build up a business and technological network in order to deliver digital services to local users with greater flexibility," said Ms Kattiya.

"The move will allow KBank to become a regional digital bank and eventually one of the top 20 banks in Vietnam within 2027."

KBank opened a branch in Ho Chi Minh City in November 2021.

KBank Vietnam will have capital of 5.9 billion baht in 2023, rising to 9.9 billion in 2027.

Voranuch Dejakaisaya, executive chairman of KBTG, said the company set aside 10 billion baht for technology investment each year to support KBank's strategy to become a regional digital bank.

She said KBTG Vietnam wants to create synergy in the group to develop blockchain and decentralised finance in the region.

Ms Voranuch said KBTG will also make KBank's flagship mobile banking app, K-Plus, a regional mobile banking platform that meets local needs.

She said KBTG chose Vietnam because the nation is expected to have a workforce of 71 million in 2030 compared with 45 million for Thailand. Vietnam had 22.6 million science and engineering graduates in 2020 compared with 19.6 million in Thailand.

KBTG has nine subsidiaries with 2,100 employees for innovation products and an IT delivery system that supports 20 million users of K-Plus and processes 7.8 billion financial transactions per year worth 23 trillion baht.

The bank estimates the number of K-Plus users is projected to reach 40 million in 2027.

"KBTG has revenue of around 5 billion baht from new S-curve innovations," Ms Voranuch said.

Thanussak Thanyasiri, managing director of KBTG Vietnam, said the company plans to recruit 200 IT staff in 2023 and have total employees exceeding 500 by 2025 to develop software for KBank and international businesses, jointly upgrading K-Plus with 600,000 existing users in Vietnam. The app targets 1.3 million users in Vietnam this year.

KBTG Vietnam recently established its second office in Hanoi to access potential tech talent and facilitate employees in different cities nationwide.

Ruangroj Poonpol, chairman of KBTG, said the multiple co-location collaborations help access technology knowledge from the talent pool in each area. The Bangkok office mainly supports KBank, while the China office is strong in blockchain and fintech, and the Vietnam office supports regional projects in other offices.

With this regional working model, KBTG will gain economy of scale from purchasing tech, speed and scope of knowledge, said Mr Ruangroj.

KBTG has shifted from a data-driven transformation approach to an automation-first company, and is now moving to become an artificial intelligence-first company, in particular generative AI, he said.

"We need to use AI to speed up business development and address the shortage of workers, as we require 3,500 IT staff as well as time to recruit and build the brand to attract regional talent and create a working environment for hybrid and creative collaboration," said Mr Ruangroj.

Thailand is the ninth-largest investor in Vietnam with investment of more than US$13 billion.

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