Digital Banking: Bank of Thailand Postpones Release of Virtual Bank Licensing Regulations

Mr. Tharith Panpiemras, Assistant Governor of the Financial Institutions Policy Group, announced that after the Bank of Thailand (BOT) released the Virtual Bank Licensing Framework for public consultation “between January 12 and February 12, 2023, the BOT reportedly received questions and helpful feedback from stakeholders including the public sector, individuals, and domestic and foreign firms.”

According to the BOT, there “were various questions about details of the licensing regulations, some of which may significantly affect decisions or business plan of applicants, as well as the business model of the proposed virtual bank.”

To ensure that the virtual banks “can offer new value propositions to efficiently serve their customers, particularly retail customers and small-and-medium enterprises (SMEs), the BOT deems it appropriate to take additional actions” as follows:

  • Clarify the conditions within the licensing regulations and clearly elaborate further details in the application manual. This will provide all applicants with sufficient and equal information to make informed decisions. It is therefore necessary to reopen public consultation on the parts where significant details or conditions are added.
  • Refine the application and selection process to ensure that all applicants receive information and opportunities in an equal and transparent manner. These include, for example, arranging a forum to provide information and clarification to all applicants at the same time, as well as adjusting the approach and channel for consultation between the BOT and applicants to ensure equal treatment.

To ensure the thoroughness and prudence of the process above, the BOT confirmed that it would be “postponing the release of the final Virtual Bank licensing regulations, and expects to submit final licensing regulations to the Ministry of Finance for consideration by July 2023.”

As covered last year, the Bank of Thailand (BOT),  Bank Indonesia (BI), Bank Negara Malaysia (BNM), Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP), and Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) have agreed “to strengthen and enhance cooperation on payment connectivity to support faster, cheaper, more transparent, and more inclusive cross-border payments.”

A Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) on Cooperation in Regional Payment Connectivity (RPC) was “signed on 14 November 2022 in Bali, Indonesia, on the sidelines of the G20 Leaders’ Summit with keynote address from Indonesia’s President, His Excellency Joko Widodo.”

During his remarks at the signing ceremony, President Widodo “emphasized the importance of concrete joint collaborative action in addressing global challenges.” The President also expressed “his highest appreciation to the Governors of the five central banks for their commitment to delivering innovative breakthroughs that will further accelerate regional payment connectivity.”

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