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One of Thailand’s major banking groups has invested in several partnerships to help boost its business. Kasikornbank’s president Patchara Samalapa explains more. An exclusive interview with Efma's Anne-Laure Jozan.
Kasikornbank (KBank) won many awards this year, including Domestic Retail Bank of the Year, Thailand Domestic Cash Management Bank of the Year and one of Thailand’s Top Corporate Brands 2019. What lies behind your institution’s success?
In response to rapid changes in customer behavior and technologies, KBank is on a mission to forge a brand-new banking business to be more robust in Thailand that is ready to make greater inroads abroad. As part of this, we have integrated data, human resources and business partners to personalize services that meet the needs of customers all over the world. The bank is aiming to make 30 billion baht in data-driven lending and grow its retail loans by around 10%. KBank’s income from overseas business is projected to increase by more than eight times over the next three years.
What is KBank’s fintech strategy?
We are currently working with global and regional fintechs to leverage their strengths and our customer base to capture new business opportunities and enhance the customer experience.
Additionally, our venture capital arm Beacon VC has been one of the most active investors in Thailand and has built up a strong portfolio with partners since its inception two years ago, including with e-book provider Ookbee, Singapore-based transportation network Grab, cross-border money transfer provider InstaReM and investment analyst Jitta.
The companies we support span local and regional organizations, as well as fintech and non-fintechs. For example, our non-fintech partners create consumer and enterprise technology, which we anticipate will provide many strategic value creation opportunities. Beacon VC will continue to be focused on investments in the increasingly competitive market while reinforcing KBank’s digital banking capabilities to serve our customers better.
Could you tell us more about your partnership with Grab?
We have bold ambitions to become the digital bank of choice in the region. We look forward to developing innovative financial products with Grab, which will put KBank in a position to tap into the rapidly growing digital economy across the region. The two organizations first partnered in 2018, which saw KBank invest US$50 million in Grab through Beacon VC.
GrabPay by KBank is a mobile wallet in the Grab app, which allows Grab customers to pay for transport and delivery services, transfer funds to friends and family, make online purchases and make QR-code payments in restaurants and shops across Thailand.
Beyond the wallet, KBank’s K PLUS app and the Grab app will integrate with each other, enabling users to benefit from seamless services across the KBank and Grab ecosystem. Finally, KBank and Grab will also work together to jointly offer products to their customer base, including loans to help merchants grow their business and access to Grab for Business to improve corporate transport expense management. They will also work to increase brand awareness and engagement through Grab’s advertising solution.
The partnership between KBank and Grab has been moving forward as planned. Ever since the loan product for Grab Driver was launched in early 2019, the number of loan applicants and approvals has been growing exponentially. Since then, the loan offering has been tailored for Grab merchants who ride motorcycles by giving them a lower interest rate when applying for vehicle leasing. This will provide extra benefit to the driver as well as for Grab to expand its delivery business and keep up with the metropolitan on-demand lifestyle.
GrabPay by KBank has also been growing continuously in the number of users. There are currently around 300,000 people on the platform. GrabRewards are also available in the e-wallet, providing customers with promotions and cashback opportunities. By the end of 2019, the number of users is projected to reach one million, as the features are planned to serve beyond the Grab ecosystem.
This interview is included in APAC Review 2019: Banks of the future