Bid for Thailand’s Virtual Banks Fires Up as Business Tycoons Race for Licenses

Business tycoons and big corporates are now racing to process the application for the licenses of Thailand’s first virtual banks as Charoen Pokphand Group (CP Group) and Gulf Energy Development Public Company Limited (SET: GULF) are the recent ones to announce the progress.

Suphachai Chearavanont, Chairman of True Corporation Public Company Limited, a telecommunication arm of CP Group, stated that the company and its partners, including Ant Group, were preparing for a bid to acquire the license of virtual bank, as it observed importance of advanced technology in the financial industry and that the license could benefit the company to approach a large group of consumers.

Meanwhile, GULF’s Chief Executive Officer Sarath Ratanavadi also noted on yesterday at the opening of Gulf Binance that the company would apply for a bid in partnership with Krung Thai Bank Public Company Limited (SET: KTB), Advanced Info Service Public Company Limited (SET: ADVANC) and PTT Oil and Retail Business Public Company Limited (SET: OR), as he emphasized for the hope that the bid for virtual bank would help the company to expand itself into online businesses such as cryptocurrency trading and digital lending.

Another conglomerate as SCB X Public Company Limited (SET: SCB), which last year announced it partnered with South Korea’s KakaoBank, was also expected to announce a new partner from China this week, according to CEO Arthid Nanthawithaya, adding that the new partner has technology expertise to support new businesses.

The Bank of Thailand revealed terms and conditions for the application to acquire the license of virtual banks on 4 March 2024, with the aim to support SMEs, underserved and unserved people. The application for the establishment of virtual banks can be applied from 20 March to 19 September 2024, while the name of the bidding winners will be announced next year.

Though the central bank did not specify the exact number of the winners, it once stated that the license will be limited to only three.