Thailand Post considers 'neutral' virtual banking agent role
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Thailand Post considers 'neutral' virtual banking agent role

State-run logistics provider Thailand Post is considering expanding its scope by becoming a "neutral virtual banking agent", with the aim of complementing the operations of nascent virtual banks, says chief executive Dhanant Subhadrabandhu.

The state agency would leverage its 1,600 branches nationwide and door-to-door delivery network comprising 25,000 employees to support such a mission, he said.

Becoming a neutral virtual bank agent would provide a new business opportunity for the company's existing financial and retail business, said Mr Dhanant.

Thailand Post plans to decide by June how it may participate in the development of virtual banks, three months ahead of the September deadline set for virtual bank applications by the Bank of Thailand.

Although virtual banks would mainly provide services via their virtual systems and digital application forms, Thailand Post could make such operations easier by serving as a contact point through its branches and network of delivery employees, he said.

For example, Mr Dhanant said Thailand Post could help unbanked people or migrant labourers who receive daily cash wages to deposit their funds through the virtual banking system.

Delivery employees could promote services to customers in their homes using a variety of virtual bank services, he said.

Thailand Post could provide related services as a virtual bank agent through its 1,600 branches nationwide, said Mr Dhanant.

The company already operates a banking agent service for all banks, accepting deposits and withdrawals using bank account passbooks at its postal branches.

He said Thailand Post is in talks with some banks that have the potential to become virtual banks to jointly explore the possibility of a proposed neutral banking agent partnership.

The state enterprise could also consider securing shares in a group planning to apply for a virtual bank licence, said Mr Dhanant.

"We have talked with some big commercial banks as well as non-bank companies that operate various businesses through a retail consumer base," he said.

"However, the talks have yet to be concluded."

Mr Dhanant said Thailand Post believes it could help provide several operations to lenders.

"Apart from Thais, one target group for virtual bank service is migrant workers who do not receive a pay slip from their employer," he said.

Mr Dhanant said this latest shift aligns with the enterprise's core strategy to switch from last-mile delivery to become a first-mile service, aiming to be known by Thais for its services and trusted for its quality.

Recently Thailand Post set an aggressive profit target for this year of 350 million baht, up sharply from 78 million last year.

Last year was the first time the state enterprise recorded a net profit in three years.

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