Backbase touts local engagement banking

Backbase touts local engagement banking

Engagement banking is another phase of digital banking development in Thailand that can facilitate business growth, says a fintech firm.

Backbase, a privately-funded fintech company, offers an engagement banking platform that leverages a single omni-channel approach, allowing banks to transition from traditional to engagement banking seamlessly.

Emphasising "customer-centricity", the new digital banking business model improves engagement with customers and allow banks to offer personalised products, said Jouk Pleiter, chief executive and co-founder of Backbase.

Backbase calls this approach lifestyle banking, he said.

The platform should help to enhance financial inclusion and facilitate growth of the banking business in the long term, said Mr Pleiter.

Founded in 2003, Backbase provides front-end digital banking solutions to banks globally. The company expanded its operations in Asia-Pacific in recent years, entering markets in Vietnam and the Philippines.

Backbase plans to operate in Thailand and Malaysia in the second phase of its expansion in the region, he said.

Planned virtual banks in Thailand could become potential business partners, said Mr Pleiter.

"We have talked with several Thai banks and see promising business opportunities in the Thai market, including with tentatively planned virtual banks," he said.

The Bank of Thailand plans to grant three virtual bank licences in the first round.

Licensing regulations are expected to be completed this month, with submission to the Finance Ministry for approval to follow.

A financial consortium that includes SCB X, the holding company of Siam Commercial Bank, and another involving Krungthai Bank have expressed interest in applying for licences.

Riddhi Dutta, regional vice-president of Backbase Asean and South Asia, said the company has a Thai bank in the pipeline as a potential customer, with a deal expected to be finalised in 3-6 months.

"There seems to be a wide disparity between some banks who are progressing and others who are yet to start their digital journey," said Mr Dutta. "This could be a huge opportunity for those disruptors who want to put the 'pedal to the metal' and gain first-mover advantage."

Despite the digital transformation of the banking sector, several banks still deploy operational and technological silos.

Backbase can help them to improve engagement banking amid digitalisation, he said.

"We see a lot of opportunities to help banks in Thailand become digital-first by upgrading their offerings with neo-banking capabilities and state-of-the-art onboarding journeys," said Mr Dutta. "The number of business partners is not an issue. We want the first business partner to succeed in the adoption of engagement banking, and we will expand to other banks later."

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