Thailand is the second-largest economy in Southeast Asia.
While it will undoubtedly be negatively impacted by the COVID pandemic, Thailand is a country that has weathered many storms—both literally, with the 2004 tsunami, and figuratively, with the 1997 Asian financial crisis.
They've achieved this success through adversity by being willing to adapt.
Their top five banks reflect the country's resilience and forward-thinking ethos.
The Bank of Thailand
There is one to rule them all!
The Bank of Thailand is the Kingdom's central bank and governs all the rest.
Established in 1942, the Bank of Thailand is the agent that deals with international financial markets and organizations, as well as the central banks of other countries.
Internally, the Bank of Thailand helps manage the entire country's economy with the Ministry of Finance.
Together they give a lot of independence to individual businesses, focusing instead on creating and sustaining an economy of growth.
The Bank of Thailand issues the baht, one of the healthiest currencies in all of Southeast Asia.
Like many currencies around the world, it was originally a unit of weight of silver or gold.
Talk about staying power: the Thai baht dates back to the 13th century.
That puts its age around 800 years, one of the oldest currencies in the world.
There are two kinds of financial institutions in Thailand that can engage in the banking business. These are:
- Banks with a full range of services for all types of customers, except for insurance underwriting, brokerage, trading, and underwriting securities.
- Retail banks that serve small businesses. They serve small and medium-sized businesses and low-income customers. These banks can provide all of the same financial services as banks with a full range of services, except for businesses related to foreign currencies and derivatives.
There are two types of foreign financial institutions that are allowed also:
- Fully-fledged representative offices can provide all the same services as banks with a full range of services, but they can only have one office.
- Subsidiaries can provide the same services as banks with a full range of services, and they are allowed to open 3 - 5 branches.
Here we will detail the top five banks in Thailand.
1. Kasikorn Bank
- One of the country's largest banks in terms of assets, deposits, and loans.
- Offers consumer, commercial, and corporate banking
- Over 1,000 branches in Thailand
- Assets of over 3 million baht
- Employs over 20,000 people.
Kasikorn Bank was established in 1945, just at the end of World War II.
In keeping with the Thai population at the time, the Bank focused on helping farmers. Back then, it was known as Thai Farmer's Bank.
As the country's economy grew, so did Kasikorn.
When the rapid expansion of the 80s and 90s led to the economic crisis of 1997, Kasikorn responded with their "Reengineering Policy" that helped it get through and eventually thrive again.
The Bank has also been at the forefront of important banking advances.
In 1973, it was one of the first banks to offer credit cards, and it was the first bank in the world to offer secure mobile phone payments.
2. Siam Commercial Bank
Headquartered in Bangkok
Over 80 billion (USD) in assets
Employs about 27000 people
Registered as a public company in 1993
Siam Commercial Bank, or SCB, is the very first Bank in Thailand.
It was founded by Royal Charter in 1907. SCB is known for focusing on industries such as insurance, real estate, and leasing, but its influence extends much further than that:
The very first ATMs in Thailand were SCB-issued. 1983 was a good year!
SCB recently put a new strategic plan into action that "responds to rapid change in the financial services industry, which is being reshaped by digital technology, regulatory change, and new consumer behavior."
3. Bangkok Bank
- Largest Bank in terms of assets
- One of the five largest companies on the Stock Exchange of Thailand
- More than 1,200 branches worldwide
- Employs over 27000 people
Bangkok Bank is a lot younger than SCB, but it made an outsized mark on the economy.
The Bank is the corporate finance leader of Thailand and is one of Southeast Asia's largest banks. Bangkok Bank is also the retail bank leader with over 17 million customer accounts.
Its International reach is noteworthy; the Bangkok Bank has 31 offices in 14 countries.
In 2020, Bangkok Bank was named the Most Trusted Bank by Thailand's BrandAge Magazine.
4. TMB Bank
- Assets over 890 million baht
- 7th largest bank in Thailand
TMB Bank was established by Sarit Tanarat, a Field Marshal in the Thai Army who came into power through a coup in 1957.
During these turbulent times, Sarit was known for trying to reform the country through sometimes questionable practices—including using an ax himself to destroy an opium den.
He was obsessed with modernizing and revitalizing the economy, and his policies worked.
Within just a few years, Thailand's gross national product showed eight percent yearly growth, and formerly poor areas of the country began to see relief.
TMB Bank became a commercial bank in 1973 and continued its success.
In 2015, it was named the Best Managed Bank in the Asia Pacific region.
TMB was the first Bank in Thailand to achieve the honor.
5. Krungthai Bank
- Assets over 314 million baht
- Employs over 29000 people.
Krungthai Bank first came to be in 1966. In 1989, it was the first state enterprise to list on the Stock Exchange of Thailand.
KTB is known as "The Convenience Bank" - it has the most domestic branches of any bank in Thailand and focuses on servicing rural areas that often have few banking options.
You'll notice that all five of these banks share common traits: excellence, innovation, and ease. Statrys Payment Services follows their inspiration as a payment service solution in Thailand.
While not a Bank, Statrys is one of the extremely few banking alternatives available to Thai businesses. I
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