US$2.7B Tech KBank Aims to Expand Banking in Thais Without Subbanks

“We are advocating for simplification, speed and a more sophisticated assessment of the potential of small customers to be responsible borrowers, so that the uninhabited and underbanked can also benefit from banking products that can improve their lives and businesses.”

Ms. Kattiya Indaravijaya, Chief Executive Officer, KASIKORNBANK

BANGKOK, July 12, 2022 /PRNewswire/ — KASINKORNBANK (KBank) has announced a 2.7 billion dollars strategic program aimed at increasing access to banking services among of Thailand the unbanked and underbanked population as well as very small businesses and the self-employed. The program includes accelerated investments in technology, technology-related acquisitions, commercial partnerships, organizational development, as well as the adoption of other technology-driven methods to increase access to banking services to a wider range of the public.

Ms. Kattiya Indaravijaya, Chief Executive Officer, KASIKORNBANK (PRNewsfoto/KASIKORNBANK (KBank))

Ms. Kattiya Indaravijaya, Chief Executive Officer, KASIKORNBANK, said, “We are taking a bold step and, through technological leadership, aim to transform the bank into Thailand in ways that can help more people access the banking system and take advantage of banking products and services.

“We are already a bank that has the strengths and credibility of a traditional bank that serves a wide range of customers. What we are doing now is to fuse with that successful core the disruptive DNA of a ‘challenger bank.’ ”

Challenger banks have been a disruptive phenomenon in many countries ‘challenging’ old banks by using new technology to make banking products more accessible. Challenger banks have also appealed to traditional bank customers by eliminating cumbersome processes and offering faster services that are easy to use, available anywhere and always open.

“Fusing the DNA of a ‘challenger bank’, we want to be a bank that empowers a whole new generation of Thais, who are rich in skills and energy, to gain access to banking products and advice.

“We want to give more loans without collateral and based on a borrower’s real ability and intention to repay. We want to make it easier for everyone to apply from the privacy of their homes or offices. We want to remove the processes and the paperwork and doing things is very simple. And we want everything to happen for the customer much, much faster.”

Ms. Indaravijaya said, “We have launched our strategic program to fully utilize emerging technologies to conduct more comprehensive assessments of a customer’s ability and willingness to repay a loan.

“These more sophisticated assessments of a small customer’s potential to be a responsible borrower will enable millions more individuals, the self-employed and very small businesses to enter the banking system, and free many from the trap of debts of interest-seeking loan sharks, often over 200% per annum.”

INVESTMENT IN TECHNOLOGY/ COOPERATION/ PURCHASE

During this and the next two years, KBank is investing all around 610 million dollars in new technology and systems, except 350 million dollars invested during the last two years.

KBank disclosed that it also expects to complete, in the next 12 months, two to five acquisitions and commercial collaborations with technology-related enterprises with investments of up to 840 million dollars.

THREE TRANSFORMATIVE ‘MONEY’

  • KBank is now piloting specialized buy-now-pay-later loans for those who are self-employed or do not have documents to prove their income, evaluating their creditworthiness on alternative data.

    In recent months, KBank has approved an average of 1600 loan requests per day using this method and the loan amount is usually around 40 US dollarswith some cases going up to 560 US dollars.

    “We are the only bank that does this and yes very encouraged that many of these people have likely never taken out a loan from a bank and are probably among the most vulnerable victims of sharks. This first small loan becomes a bridge that helps them move into the banking system. And, as they gain confidence in managing and repaying these loans, they can gradually increase the size of the loan based on their performance, as well as be empowered with other more specialized products,” said Ms. Indaravijaya.

  • KBank is also testing ways to make getting loans fairer for micro-enterprises as part of its ‘challenger bank’ aims.

    Because many of these types of enterprises have no financial statements, they are almost always unable to obtain bank loans and are forced to turn to expensive, informal sources of lending.

    “We are the first bank to reach out to these groups and allow them to get loans without any such documentation. We are doing it based on interviews and other technology-assisted assessments and hope to extend the project beyond its phase preliminary, as soon as possible,” she added.

  • Ms. Indaravijaya said another significant barrier to obtaining bank loans for the lower income groups and the self-employed is that they do not have time to visit a bank branch or are not comfortable doing so.

    “To make it easier for them to enter the banking system, we have partnered with the social media application LINE, and we are the only bank that offers banking services through social media in Thailand. Even if an applicant does not have a bank account, our LINE BK app allows them to apply for a loan and receive a decision within 24 hours. And if they already have a KBank account, they can fill out an application and get a decision in less than five minutes.

    “The LINE BK app also enables people to apply for loans even if they don’t have supporting documents. With an applicant’s consent, we can evaluate most cases using algorithms and alternative data already available on their social media.”

    Based on the current user base, about one in three successful borrowers through LINE BK are getting their first ever bank loan; almost half are self-employed, about half have incomes below 420 US dollars a month, and almost 80% are in the provinces outside Bangkok.

    “By the end of this year, with the LINE BK application alone, we hope to bring another 200,000 people into the banking system by giving them their first bank loan.. Through this channel we also expect the granting of loans in total 550 million dollars to over 600,000 people and small businesses, freeing many from the need to consider borrowing from expensive informal sources,” she said.

Extension UPCOUNTRY ACCESS THROUGH MOM-AND-POP STORES

KBank is also working with a major retail group to give mom-and-pop store operators in the country easier access to collateral-free credit, as well as offering credit to store customers.

“By assessing the creditworthiness of a store and its customers in non-traditional ways and making processes much simpler, by 2022 we aim to reach deep into our country through thousands of partner stores. This will make us a another big step closer to helping the residents of the surrounding small communities Thailand gain access to banking services,” she said.

Note to the Editor

Like us March 31, 2022the total assets of KBank and its subsidiaries were 4,133,248 million Bahtan increase of 29,849 million Baht or 0.73% at the end of 2021, ranking it in second place Thailand based on loan market share.

KBank is well positioned financially for the future with a capital ratio of 18.77% and a liquidity coverage ratio (LCR) of 174%, and has sufficient provision for loan losses with a non-performing loan (NPL) coverage of 159 %, like us December 2021.

KBank is listed on the Stock Exchange Thailand (SET) and is included in the SET 100 Index, the SET Thailand Sustainability Investment Index (THSI) and the SET CLMV Exposure Index, and carries a long-term Moody’s rating of Baa1 Outlook Stable.

Where US dollar figures are quoted, exchange rate calculations are approximate and rounded.

SOURCE KASINKORNBANK (KBank)

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