“Think Thailand, Think KBTG” vision colors Beyond the Future Day 2020
KASIKORN Bank, and its technology arm KASIKORN Business Technology Group (KBTG), are thinking big. The parent bank is pursuing a goal of becoming the best digital bank in Asia Pacific, while KBTG intends to establish itself as the region’s best tech firm.
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Moreover, while KBank has expanded into Laos, Myanmar and China, KBTG is sure enough of its own regional ventures to predict that it will have installed itself as the region’s biggest tech firm within three years.
Chairman of KBTG Ruangroj ‘Krating’ Poonpol says that with the backing of its great technologies, his firm is committed to creating tech products and services to enhance the daily lives of people in the ASEAN Economic Community. At present, KBTG has about 1,500 employees, but by the end of this year, it expects its workforce to have grown to 1,900. It will also have technology-development hubs in Thailand, China, and Vietnam.
The three hubs have been established to develop technologies in support of the service structure of KBank and its partners, and to complement the bank’s focus on digital banking.
In China, KBTG has set up K-TECH, with a registered capital of 300 million yuan (about Bt1.5 billion), in Shenzhen, the major metropolis linking Hong Kong with mainland China. K-TECH plans to hire about 300 people there to develop financial technologies for the operations of KBank and its partners in China and elsewhere.
“We are going to be Thailand’s biggest tech firm and also its tech-talent hub,” Ruangroj says. “In Shenzhen, we will focus on technology development and collaboration with partners, with a strong emphasis on FinTech. In Vietnam, we will have another technology-development hub. And in Thailand, we will pursue increasingly important technologies and innovations with an AI (artitificial intelligence) factory, partnerships, and Deep Tech.”
Both KBank and KBTG believe that the bank should be omnipresent and a part of everyone’s life. ”We compete against our old self,” Ruangroj says.
”We look every day to see how much closer we are to our vision. Our corporate culture is ONE KBTG. We are unifying our workforce with our vision: Think Thailand, Think KBTG.”
KBTG’s goals resonate with those of KBank, which seeks leadershiop in the ASEAN Economic Community. So far, the bank has been very successful in Quick Response (QR) services. In Laos, it has expanded its business presence from Vientiane to Savannakhet. Presently, it has 70,000 customers in Laos, and expects that number to rise quickly to about 200,000 before the end of this year.
In Myanmar, KBank has partnered with Ayeyawaddy Farmers’ Development Bank (A Bank) through a joint venture that will see the K+ app developed as the A+ app for the local market. KBank is confident that the A+ app will be just as successful in Myanmar as K+ is in Thailand, where it is now the country’s No. 1 financial application.
In China, KBank aims to reach out to retail customers with personal loans. It intends to tap into the massive personal-loan market in China with digital-lending services.
Meanwhile, back in Bangkok, KBTG has two “campuses”. The first, called Chaeng Valley 2020, serves as the company’s headquarters and operation center. The second, Samyan Valley 2025, has been created as a co-innovation space and an operations center supporting KBTG’s overseas business expansion.
Notable is the K+ Building, a five-storeyed structure with 7,000 square meters of floor space. It features a working office, a “creativity space” for generating innovations, and a “working café”. The entire facility has an informal ambience to match a “new generation” lifestyle.
“K+ Building reflects our people and our spirit,” Ruangroj says. “It communicates our commitment to innovation.”
Interestingly, the K+ Building also has a cleverly-designed stadium. With space constraints in mind, the seating is foldable to make it a flexible, multi-purpose facility. As well, the K+ Building has a sky garden where people can relax and enjoy the city landscape.
One KBTG: The company’s “most important transformation”
In the wake of the COVID-19 crisis, Thai people have quickly changed to adopt a “new normal” lifestyle. In a similar style, KBTG is staging a corporate transformation under the concept ”One KBTG”. Key aspects are agility and the creation of a “transformation community”, as KBTG strives to gather strength, so as to help Thailand to avoid an economic crisis.
Within the “new normal” milieu, consumers have become increasingly familiar with digital technologies. E-commerce sales in Thailand, as a result, have jumped nearly three-fold. The average age of mobile-banking users has also changed, from 25 to 39 years in the past to between 40 and 50. The K+ app now has about 14 million users. It is expected to facilitate more than 20-billion financial transactions this year. K+ has also partnered with various organizations to bring financial services to all industries.
KBTG’s ““KhunThong” application, meanwhile, has reached 500,000 members within 3 months. The “MAKE” app has undergone 20,000 downloads and Eatable, 10,000 downloads. About 20 partners have used KBTG’s Contactless Technologies. In one of the latest developments, KBTG has joined forces with the Stock Exchange of Thailand to open a new-style capital market for technology-based fundraising and investment.
KBTG’s transformation strategies have been implemented to meet the following objectives:
- To enable customers to keep doing business, and to educate people about saving money, investing, and buying insurance;
- To create a good financial balance in customers’ lives, not only to cater for modern lifestyles, but also to enable them to spend their savings on investments that will secure a good life in retirement; and
- To transform a traditional banking business into a tech firm that delivers useful innovations to everyone and enables customers to conduct transactions from anywhere.