AIS seeks partners for virtual bank
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AIS seeks partners for virtual bank

Somchai Lertsutiwong
Somchai Lertsutiwong

Advanced Info Service (AIS) is in talks with PTT Oil and Retail Business (OR) and a digital platform provider on a potential partnership to apply for a virtual bank licence from the Bank of Thailand, according to AIS chief executive Somchai Lertsutiwong.

The potential partners would be added to AIS's plan to apply for a licence with current partner Krungthai Bank (KTB).

AIS and KTB announced last year they plan to partner to form a virtual bank.

According to Mr Somchai, talks on the partnership have not reached a conclusion as all parties wait for final details from the central bank.

The Bank of Thailand is waiting for the Finance Ministry to approve details of its announcement for the application submission.

Once approved, the announcement can be published in the Royal Gazette and the application process can begin.

Mr Somchai said each of the partners has a unique strength.

KTB has a reliable brand, successful track record and expertise in financial services, while AIS can tout its digital technology, nationwide network coverage and customer service, he said.

OR represents the oil and retail business of PTT Group and has a strong retail network and consumer base, said Mr Somchai.

AIS and its partners are ready to submit a licence application once the central bank opens the process, he said.

There is pent-up demand for loans nationwide, especially among retail borrowers and underserved segments, said Mr Somchai.

Earlier he said a partnership between a telecom operator and a bank is a perfect model of synergy and capitalisation on digital platforms.

The partnership can serve the new business landscape through cost effectiveness, innovation and cross-industry operations, requiring bank expertise, a smart networking system and data analysis, said Mr Somchai.

He said last year AIS has more than 100 staff in data analytics and science. The company is seeking many more employees in these critical fields to serve its operations and the virtual banking ecosystem, said Mr Somchai.

AIS developed a digital credit rating model using data analytics systems over a period of five years.

The central bank's latest guidelines for virtual bank licensing want operators to use technologies, data and digital technology expertise to offer innovative services via a digital channel to serve the demands of all groups.

Virtual banks should have comprehensive services for all groups of customers with a focus on retail customers, small and medium-sized enterprises, and low-income earners and people without fixed income or patchy financial track records, noted the regulator.

Virtual banks will be required to comply with the same regulations to which commercial banks are subject.

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