Thailand’s Kasikornbank has major plans to be a true digital bank of the region: Thailand’s Kasikornbank, better known as KBank, is emerging as the Regional Digital Bank of the new era ASEAN-Plus 3 countries – comprising ASEAN member states and China, Japan and South Korea. Guided by a strategy of leveraging its key strengths – customer relations, partnerships and technologies – the bank is proposing to deliver services accessible to local users through deployment of what it describes as ‘challenger bank’ technology. It plans to invest more than US$2.7 billion to improve its service network within the region and has set targets of loans amounting to 20 billion Baht and a retail customer base of 1.2 million by the end of 2023.
The bank has always been in the forefront in lending to corporate customers, including investors and local business operators. It has adopted what it describes as ‘Mass Acquisition Play’, which is actually expanding the customer base via cooperation with business partners with focus on provision of transactional banking services using digital channels and achievement of transaction linkage at the regional level as a regional payment platform, and ‘Disruptive Play’, which it describes as developing new patterns of financial services, especially digital lending, with the use of alternative data to reach out to the underbanked groups, which constitutes a large customer base in the AEC+3 bloc, and thereby entering into the domain of Banking-as-a-Service (BaaS) business.
The bank plans to create a digital lifestyle ecosystem and it has partnered with Grab, a tech company present in the whole of Southeast Asia, providing technology for several services in the country like food delivery, parcel delivery, transportation etc. It is an Uber in a different setup. The partnership has seen the launch of Grabpay, using which customers are able to pay for everything by using a mobile wallet. What the bank has really gained from this alignment is the access to Grab’s Big Data resources, which is a key to succeed in business in the digital world.
COLLABORATION WITH GRAB
The cooperation has also seen the integration of K Bank’s K Plus app the Grab app that has enabled users to benefit from seamless services across the KBank and Grab ecosystems. The bank onboarded 2 million new users on this platform in 2022, more than a million of them new to the bank itself. It is estimated that as much as 98% of all KBank’s transactions are now being conducted online. This is a direct fall-out of the launch of the challenger bank program.
DIGITAL LOAN PLATFORM
The bank has another service, Line BK, a social banking collaboration with Line Corporation. Starting operation in 2020, Line BK today is a leader in Thailand’s digital loan business. It also offers instant banking services, products and fund transfer. Line BK is the only provider of banking products and services through social media and as such it has a key role in the fulfilment of KBank’s ‘challenger bank’ goals. Essentially, it enables the bank to reach many unbanked and underbanked players. Line BK is using an AI system for intelligent data analysis as well as other non-traditional data, such as behavioral data sourced from the Line ecosystem, with the applicant’s permission, to evaluate their ability and willingness to repay.
A UNIQUE TECH GROUP
The bank has set up Kasikorn Business Technology Group to strengthen and speed up its digital plans, create state-of-the-art technologies and develop mobile applications. It is the Group’s aim to convert the bank into a truly digital initiative giving millions of its customers the ability to access financial services at any time and from anywhere.
The Group’s mission is to help the bank create the digital bank of the future, providing customers with fast, easy, and safe access to financial services from anywhere, and at any time. As the Group delivers new digital services, its ability to accurately assess each customer’s needs and potential risk is vital to its success.
The Group has teamed with Cloudera to implement a modern platform for machine learning and analytics that helps improve customer service and fraud detection and enables innovative services.
The bank has a social chatbot, KhunThong, a product developed in collaboration with the Group. It is described as a new breed of treasurer, an expert in managing financial matters. It aims to promote a cashless society. KhunThong can help a customer of the bank overcome the complexities of calculating expenses, splitting a bill or collecting payment. The users can make payment easily via K PLUS or scanning the e-slip bearing a QR code by any mobile banking application of other leading banks to confirm payment.
At present, more than 20 million customers can use KBank services at more than 830 branches and 11,000 K-ATM/KCDM, over 220,000 KBank service points across the country as well as K Plus.