Thais top the world in mobile banking access

Thai people are diving into digital technology at high speed according to an annual global survey of digital trends and behaviors that ranked Thailand tops in the world in access to mobile banking, while Thais were second in owning digital currencies, third in engaging in e-commerce, and fifth in owning a mobile wallet.

“Despite controversy around privacy, hacking, fake news and all the other negative aspects of online life, the world continues to embrace the internet and social media,’’ said the Global Digital Report 2019 published last week by We Are Social and Hootsuite, two social media research firms.

The survey found that 74 percent of Thailand’s people have access to mobile banking services, making it the global leader in that category. That bodes well for the government’s ambition of creating a digital economy and cashless society, two priorities in its 20-year national advanced development strategy.

Thailand was fifth globally in ownership of a mobile wallet, with 41 percent of Thai internet users having downloaded that kind of application.

Of the Kingdom’s 69 million people, 57 million, or 82 percent, are internet users, and mobile service providers have registered 92 million subscribers or accounts for a penetration rate of 133 percent. Many people own more than one mobile phone and therefore have multiple accounts. Over 71 percent of Thais own a smartphone, while 98 percent own a mobile phone of some kind.

Thais are avid internet users, spending an average of 9 hours and 11 minutes online every day.

The Kingdom ranked second in the world in cryptocurrency ownership among internet users with 9.9 percent of them holding digital currencies. South Africa was the global leader at 10.7 percent. The global average was just 5.5 percent.

Known worldwide as enthusiastic shoppers, Thais also ranked fifth in e-commerce, and 80 percent of Thai internet users bought something online last year. They trailed the people of Indonesia (86 percent), China (82 percent), Germany (81 percent), the U.K. (8 percent). The world average was 75 percent.

Where Thailand lagged, however, is in the value of their transactions. Thais spend an average of $100 each on online purchases, well below the global average of $634.

The future, however, looks bright for all engaged in digital commerce and communications. “Global digital growth shows no sign of slowing, with a million new people around the world coming online every day,” the report said.