Large banks are hopping on the fintech bandwagon by forging partnerships to address the tech talent shortage.
Thakorn Piyapan, head of digital banking and innovation at Bank of Ayudhya (BAY), said the local banking industry faces a tech talent shortage, intensifying headhunting amid exponential growth in online financial transactions and the industry's rapid pace of technology development.
Some 400,000 computer engineers graduate each year in Thailand, compared with 8 million in China.
Apart from training IT workers and honing their skills, the partnership model with tech startups is a shortcut to increase tech talent, Mr Thakorn said.
BAY, the country's fifth-largest lender by assets, is seeking more fintech partners to support the bank's technology development. Under the bank's fintech accelerator programme, Krungsri Rise, BAY has joined forces with 25 fintech companies in developing innovative technologies.
An additional 10 fintech firms are in the bank's pipeline, with an eye towards 40 such partnerships by year-end.
Kukkong Ruckphaopunt, executive vice-president of Bangkok Bank, said the partnership model is a key strategy for acquiring tech talent.
Bangkok Bank also has a fintech accelerator programme, InnoHub, which hunts for fintech partners locally and internationally.
The programme is focusing on customer experience improvement, digitisation and automation, small- and medium-sized enterprises, and innovative payment.
Wirawat Panthawangkun, senior executive vice-president of Kasikornbank, said KBank has set up a new company, Kasikorn Vision Co Ltd or K-Vision, to invest in tech firms.
The newly established company has a total investment budget of 8 billion baht.
"The bank, through the new company, can scout out tech talent around the world to fulfil the country's insufficient tech talent," Mr Wirawat said.
In the initial stage, K-Vision is building a strong foundation in four target countries that have blazed new trails in technology, especially in terms of application to daily use by consumers, he said.
These include China, where the number of fintech unicorns, i.e. fintech firms worth more than US$1 billion, outstrips that of the US; Vietnam; Indonesia, where tech startups have been among the fastest-growing companies in the AEC+3 region; and Israel, a key incubator of tech talent.