Thai fintech sector calls for state support
Fear as foreign firms eye e-payment market
The Thai FinTech Association has called on the government to increase its support for local tech startups and financial institutions to enhance their competitiveness and prevent foreign giants from monopolising the fintech market.
"It's time for the government to create a level playing field between local and foreign players and prevent monopolies from taking hold through the use of the Trade Competition Act," said chairman Korn Chatikavanij.
He expressed concern at the prospect of foreign players controlling the e-payment service market after Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba moved aggressively to increase its presence in Thailand through a partnership with CP All, the operator of 7-Eleven convenience stores in the country.
"The alliance between the two giants poses critical challenges to Thai fintech companies," Mr Korn said yesterday at a seminar entitled, "The New Era of Digital for Business Solutions", hosted by Brother Commercial Thailand.
Cross-border trade in financial services is not yet regulated by the Bank of Thailand, enabling cross-border e-payment service providers to expand their financial services to compete directly with existing banks.
Mr Korn urged banks to partner with local fintech startups to improve their innovative capacity to compete with international e-payment players.
The Thai government also needs to update the country's regulations to support tech-based businesses and the concurrent development of the Thailand 4.0 initiative, he added.
Thailand 4.0 is intended to reshape the country's economic structure and all business sectors so that they are driven by innovation and technology.
"This will encourage companies to embrace digital technologies to improve their efficiency and increase productivity," said Mr Korn.
Thailand 4.0 is expected to increase Thailand's earnings per person per year from US$6,500 (229,060 baht) to $13,500 over the next 10-15 years, said Mr Korn.
For every four Thais, one will be a senior citizen -- much older than the Asean average, where one out of every seven people is a senior citizen.
But he said the state also needs to improve the country's educational system and create a workforce with more digital skills.
Mr Korn also urged the government to impose a corporate income tax on international technology firms like Facebook and Google, who dominate Thailand's digital marketing industry.
Mr Korn said all tech-related state authorities need to quickly adapt to the rapidly changing technological landscape and implement long-term policies that will help local tech firms stay competitive and cope with changing consumer habits.