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17 Nov 2022

Econ Digest

What is the level of financial inclusion in Thailand compared to APEC?


        The theme of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) meeting in 2022 is “Open. Connect. Balance.”, reflecting the efforts to drive the economy and society of member countries towards a sustainable direction, in order to achieve inclusive growth that encourages mutual benefit sharing and equal opportunities for all groups of people in society. One of the promotion guidelines is to support access to financial services (financial inclusion) for all groups in society, with the expectation that sufficient funds will be available quickly at a cost commensurate with the risk. This will help people or businesses to expand their investments and increase their income opportunities in the future.

        KResearch finds that Thailand’s financial inclusion rate is higher than the average level of the APEC. According to data from the World Bank, in 2021, the percentage of Thai people with accounts in the formal financial institutions (compared to the total population over 15 years old), the percentage of savings with the financial institutions and the percentage of digital payment transactions made stood at 95.6%, 67.1% and 92% respectively, well above the APEC average of 82.1%, 61.4% and 78.1% respectively. In addition, Thailand is outstanding in terms of transactions via digital channels, with the percentage of the population conducting payment transactions at approximately 92% in 2021, higher than the APEC average of 78.1%. This trend can be developed to increase access to credit, including payment linkages with other member countries, which are guidelines currently being implemented by the Bank of Thailand.

        However, Thailand’s access to credit services, including credit cards and debit cards, is still lower than the APEC average, which is a challenge that Thailand should address further. According to data from the World Bank, Thailand’s usage of credit services provided by formal financial institutions is 30.4%, lower than the APEC average of 38.2% due to financial constraints or insufficient income, lack of knowledge/understanding of credit products, and reluctance of contacting financial institutions for fear of rejection; while many Thais choose not to use credit products (self-exclusion). This information reflects that Thai authorities and relevant sectors must continue to address Thailand’s household debt problem. Some aspects are planning to improve access to formal credit services through different policies, including increasing competition between bank and non-bank service providers, reducing transaction costs for credit service providers, providing opportunity for players to access to the country’s infrastructure, providing financial knowledge and enhancing understanding of the consequences of using informal debt, and creating and promoting careers to help alleviate the problem of access to credit and household debt sustainably.

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