CASH IN A FLASH - Thailand

Transferring small sums easily

Cashless payments are growing in Asia with consumers lured by an increasing array of services, from smartphone payment apps such as e-wallets to stored value cards and cheap online interbank transfers.Many like the convenience and safety of not having to carry cash. But the growth is not universal, and, in some countries, cash remains king because of fears of identity theft as well as the lack of infrastructure and lack of knowledge of the digital world.

A cheap electronic interbank transfer system for depositors launched in January is part of the Thai government's digital payment masterplan to cut transaction costs and increase transparency.

Called PromptPay, it allows transfers of sums less than 5,000 baht (S$200) to accounts of other banks for free, as opposed to the 25 baht fee usually levied by banks.

Thailand's three mobile phone service providers also offer e-wallets. For example, True Money is an electronic payment system linked to mobile service provider True Move. In October, True Money also launched a remittance service that allows Myanmar migrant workers in Thailand to make real-time transfers of their earnings home.

The rollout of PromptPay's peer-to-peer transfer system is expected to change the dynamics of Thailand's e-payment landscape, says Mr Punnamas Vichitkulwongsa, who heads the Thailand e-Payment Association.

"PromptPay creates a level playing field for (non-bank e-wallet providers). Banks will be more aggressive and step up their offerings to end users," he told The Sunday Times.

Tan Hui Yee

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on March 19, 2017, with the headline 'Transferring small sums easily'. Print Edition | Subscribe