BoT spreading PromptPay reach
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BoT spreading PromptPay reach

The Bank of Thailand is in talks to link the country's PromptPay with Singapore's PayNow to allow users in both countries to send money to each other using mobile phone numbers.

The cross-border fund transfer is a next step for PromptPay, a cheap fund transfer service using only mobile phone numbers or citizen IDs, said Finance Minister Apisak Tantivorawong.

Since the service was launched early last year, there have been 97 million PromptPay transactions, with 370 billion baht transferred and 37 million savings accounts used to sign up for the service, of which 25 million were opened with citizen ID numbers and the rest with mobile phone numbers, said permanent secretary for finance Somchai Sujjapongse in early February.

PromptPay is part of the national e-payment scheme, designed to move Thailand towards a cashless society in tandem with the government's Thailand 4.0 model.

With PromptPay, money transfers via ATM machines and online channels to recipients with bank accounts synced with mobile phone numbers or citizen IDs are free for up to 5,000 baht; 5,001-30,000 baht transfers are charged a fee of no more than two baht; 30,001-100,000 baht transfers cost no more than five baht; and transfers exceeding 100,000 baht are charged no more than 10 baht.

Mr Apisak said PromptPay has encouraged commercial banks to waive transaction fees for digital channels to keep their existing customer base and attract new ones.

Four large banks -- Bangkok Bank (BBL), Siam Commercial Bank (SCB), Krungthai Bank (KTB) and Kasikornbank (KBank) -- last Wednesday made a surprise push into digital banking by offering free transactions on their digital platforms.

The aim is to attract more customers and monitor their financial behaviour, which is crucial for banks to compete with new players from platform giants like Alipay.

BBL, SCB and KBank permanently removed the fees for inter-bank and cross-clearing zone money transfers, bill payments and top-up services through the digital platform, while KTB plans to offer the services for free until the end of this year.

The no-fee service has compelled smaller and state-owned banks to follow suit.

GH Bank, the state-owned mortgage lender, scrapped its transaction fee for online channels yesterday, a move the bank estimates will result in a loss of 50 million baht in fee-based income per year.

In the meantime, the incumbent finance minister said over 7,000 state agency units across the country must adopt electronic payment services by June.

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