The COVID-19 crisis has persisted for almost two years, offering various parties a clearer perspective on multiple issues – whether these are the impacts that stemmed from the pandemic or existing problems in each sector that have been exacerbated by the ongoing outbreak. Many interesting points can be made with regard to the issues plaguing bank customers if one looks through the lens of Thai commercial banks. For instance, the net profit of the banking system was derived partially from interest income on amortization basis. Meanwhile, Thai commercial banks have a weaker financial position than financial institutions in neighboring countries, and are likely to see a slower rate of recovery. Additionally, the operating results of the Thai banking industry as well as asset quality woes and a slower decline of loan portfolios that applied for the financial relief measures in comparison to other ASEAN members served to indicate a multitude of problems for the Thai economy; including an economic structure hampered by a high proportion of businesses that have been severely affected by COVID-19, Thailand's competitiveness problem and households' financial position which declined further after the resurgence of COVID-19.
Looking forward, the recovery of overall performance and asset quality of Thai commercial banks will lag its neighboring countries amid economic uncertainty. Even so, the more pressing concern is the survival of businesses and households amid challenges in terms of income, competition and debts that have surged under the evolving economic and environmental contexts. Urgent efforts should also be made to identify the strengths of business sectors that could attract foreign investment amid Thailand's technological restrictions as the expertise of most Thai tech professionals is still confined to outdated technology. These are challenges that must be overcome to ensure the long-term sustainability of the economy, businesses, households and commercial banks,
In the meantime, Thai commercial banks will need to address short-term issues and make adjustments, especially on how to verify their customers' alternative sources of income, acquire potential customers (whose numbers are decreasing), reduce costs, and seek new opportunities through new business models that exist beyond the traditional financial landscape. Although these initiatives may help to increase the accessibility and diversity of financial services as well as support Thailand's economic growth to an extent, sustainable growth cannot be achieved without economic restructuring post-COVID-19.
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