LENDING & CREDIT | Cesar Tordesillas, China

Thailand's SCB wants Laos and Myanmar, not Malaysia and Indonesia

Be regional banks.

This is what Vichit Suraphongchai, executive chairman of Siam Commercial Bank, advises Thai banks to do.

The implementation of the Asean Economic Community in 2015 will open more opportunities to Thia banks in the region. 

As for SCB, Suraphongchai said it is keen on building awareness in the region and sees business opportunites in Laos and Myanmar.

SCB has opened its representative office in Myanmar to promote trade and investment between Thailand and neighbouring countries and strengthen its business network in Mekong Sub-region countries.

"Human resources are also the bank's focus. We should have staff that can communicate in the countries that we will go to because they might oversee our branches abroad," he said.

Thai banks have strong capital and technology to do business in the region but the challenge for them is to learn more about each country, so SCB has given more weight to building knowledge and brand awareness locally and outside the country.

However, it may not consider setting up its network where local banks are strong, such as Indonesia and Malaysia.

Suraphongchai added that the four major Thai banks are large enough by assets to expand in the region, but Thai banks are not hefty enough to compare with Indonesian or Malaysian banks. SCB has to set a strategy to be selective, as foreign banks did by forming business units with expertise to capture customers.

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