The global trend for the retail financial service sector is for an ‘everywhere banking’ landscape. The demand for mobile banking – like mobile services in general – is growing at an exponential rate, especially in the Asia Pacific region, writes Serge van Dam, segment leader of digital channels at Fiserv

Embracing Innovation

According to Telenor Group in the third quarter of 2013, Thailand saw a record 29.1% increase in smartphone usage, and the number of devices increase from 7.1m to 8m.With this high percentage of smartphone users in Thailand, it is no wonder that mobile banking is becoming increasingly popular.

Bangkok Bank has embraced this trend, initially introducing its mobile banking platform in 2009 and recently launching its upgraded mobile service, Bualuangm Banking. The bank is Thailand’s leading commercial bank, boasting over 1,100 branches and approximately 18m accounts including business and retail customers. It is also an Asian regional bank, with 26 international branches including operations in Malaysia, China, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Vietnam, Japan, Taiwan and Singapore. Bangkok Bank has embraced innovation enabling it to provide services that suit customers’ distinct needs – from sophisticated high net-worth individuals to single account holders.

To effectively compete in a quickly maturing market, Bangkok Bank had to simultaneously deliver a wide-range of basic services to its diverse client-base, while also standing out from the competition to attract new segments, such as younger, more tech-savvy customers. This capability attracts everyday banking customers, including middle income and Generation Y customers who prefer to access the internet via mobile devices and tablets. The bank also wanted to ensure that it was providing intuitive end-to-end experiences to users who may be unaccustomed to self-service and online banking channels, including those who may not have easy access to branches.

After evaluating its customer base and competitive position, the bank put its focus on servicing clients outside of traditional branches with mobile services. By embracing the mobile channel to better serve its growing customer base, Bangkok Bank is able to gain a great advantage over its competitors. Bangkok Bank customers can now securely access their financial information and conduct a broad range of transactions via their mobile devices.

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The mobile channel delivery was key to meeting the unique demands of the Thai banking market’s compliance requirements, script and language necessities, while continuing to showcase Bangkok Bank’s powerful and stable brand.

The bank has enabled secure on-device registration, so its customers will be able to sign up for mobile banking on-the-spot. This will ensure the service is accessible to the bank’s broad customer-base, not just its existing online banking users. The upgraded mobile banking platform also allows customers to check their account balances, review transaction history, locate ATMs and branches, transfer funds, pay people and bills, and top up prepaid accounts using either the English or Thai languages.

What mobile banking delivers

Customers in Thailand need on-the-go banking tools to complement their highly mobile lifestyles. Recognising this, Bangkok Bank has been investing in the mobile channel to deliver ‘everyday, everywhere’ banking for its customers. Customers of Bangkok Bank are able to do their banking anytime, anywhere – while shopping, waiting for the bus or train, or on holiday -at no additional cost.

Bualuangm Banking allows customers to check their account balances, manage payments and transfer money between accounts, all while out and about. By delivering this level of convenience Bangkok Bank also gives customers the opportunity to reduce their reliance on cash. As well as providing increased convenience for bank customers, this will encourage migration from a cash-based economy which may also have macro-economic benefits for Thailand in the long term.

"Delivering feature-rich mobile banking and payment services that are easy for consumers to access and use is a strategic priority for Bangkok Bank," said Chartsiri Sophonpanich, President, Bangkok Bank.

"The mobile channel is evolving at an astounding pace in Thailand and elsewhere in Asia. We are deploying a reliable platform that can expand to support more users and more services, so we can effectively address the anticipated growth and changes the mobile channel will bring to our bank. We are committed to delivering a mobile banking product which provides an excellent customer experience; namely easy to use, rich in functionality, fast, available and secure"

The future of mobile banking

Mobile banking technology is still in the early stages, especially in South East Asia. However, given its strong potential, banks are looking to gain an edge over competitors and attract a wider customer base (young, mobile-savvy urban customers or the rural under-banked) to embrace mobile channels.

Mobile banking solutions of the future must anticipate the expectations of customers and recognise the potential that the mobile channel represents – a technology that can increase brand loyalty and customer satisfaction. Bangkok Bank is well-placed for this future as an organization committed to building customer relationships in the spirit of "puankoo kit mitkoobaan" (aspiring to be a trusted partner and reliable close friend). The bank aims to extend its industry leadership by providing a complete range of cutting edge, innovative financial services to support customers in their everyday lives.