[BANGKOK] TMB Bank Pcl, Thailand's seventh-largest lender, plans to more than triple the number of its online customers to 1 million by 2021 and tap rapid growth in digital banking transactions, an executive said on Friday.
TMB, which is 35 per cent owned by Dutch financial group ING Groep, will allow customers to open deposit accounts via smartphones or other devices. TMB is the first Thai bank to offer such a service and will launch it in the third quarter, said Rachada Sermsillapakul, marketing director of the bank's online unit.
At present, Thais need to physically verify their identity at bank branches to open a savings account.
TMB launched its digital banking service for its deposit accounts under ME brand in 2012, and aimed to boost the number of online saving accounts by 20 per cent to 300,000 at the end of this year, Rachada said.
The online service has posted a strong growth of 20 per cent a year since the launch because it offers a higher interest rate compared with rivals, and does not charge any fee for money transfer.
As customers prefer to do transactions online, TMB planned to close three of its four ME branches this year, she added.
A strong growth in online banking transactions has prompted Thai financial institutions to come up with innovative technology to offer cheap and effective services to attract more customers.
Along with peers, Thailand's top lender by assets Bangkok Bank and third-ranked Siam Commercial Bank, recently set up separate units to work with financial technology firms and startups to explore technological advances.