It’s the bank that never sleeps and a brand that is the envy of many. Bangkok Bank’s position as a market leader in the hyper-competitive financial services market in Thailand is evident by the stream of awards it has garnered over the years.
Indeed, as one of the largest, most successful financial institutions in Southeast Asia, it came as no surprise when Bangkok Bank was awarded Brand of the Year in the banking category by the prestigious World Branding Forum. Winners were judged based on three streams: brand valuation, consumer market research, and consumer votes.
Maintaining its strong standing amongst consumers is critical to the brand; specifically, the two most used platforms: mobile and digital banking. Ensuring that both services have 24/7 uptime, are easy to use, highly functional, and always responsive are critical.
Ian Guy Gillard, Bangkok Bank senior executive vice president, recalls that wired internet "never really took off in Thailand". As a result, digital banking had a slow start. But when mobile phones with 3G and 4G arrived, digital banking became a viable option.
"When we launched internet banking, and then mobile banking, we all of a sudden got this uptake. It took several years to hit 1 million users on internet banking, but we hit 3 million in two months on mobile. Everyone in Thailand has a mobile phone, penetration is around 140 percent…even lower-paid workers have a smartphone. And the government is very proactive as far as not having an unbanked population. You can have low [account] balances and still get access to the full stack of digital banking," Gillard explains.
Bangkok Bank currently has between 6 million and 7 million users of the mobile app—a number that’s growing every month. It hopes to increase that to between 8 million to 10 million in the next 12 months. In 2020, it conducted 819 million transactions and expects to do more than 1 billion in 2021. But, keeping up with demand has had its challenges.
"The rate of usage was growing, and customer expectations were changing. We were ahead of our competitors four or five years ago, but we fell behind. We needed to improve not just the product, but the customer experience and be able to understand what they're doing and how the system is responding to their needs. Instead of just a ‘servers up’ mentality we needed to understand the experience from the customer perspective in real time,” Gillard says.