ASEAN KEY DESTINATIONS
Bank fees draw Thai regulatorsThai bank executives meet with bank regulators today to discuss fee charges on transactions and services.
Finance Minister Korn Chatikavanij said fee-based income accounted for more than 23 percent of the total income of banks as of the first quarter, compared with just over 17 percent in 2004. Kasikornbank, the country's third-largest bank, expects its fee-based income to reach 45 percent of total income this year compared with 28 percent in 2009.
"Simply put, [banks] don't have to lend much at all to still post significant profits," Mr Korn wrote on his Facebook account.
Four of the country's top banks, Bangkok Bank, Kasikornbank, Krung Thai and Bank of Ayudhya are on track to post profit growth of 25 percent this year, a combined 95 billion baht, he added. "The question that must be answered is whether these fees are fair or not. Personally, I already have my own answer," Mr. Korn wrote.
Bank of Thailand officials have already hinted that local banks will face increased restrictions on fees for services such as electronic fund transfers or inter-provincial transactions. A study last year by the Thailand Development Research Institute for the central bank found that the fact that fees for cash, interbank and ATM transfers were set uniformly across the system reflected a lack of competition.
Fees have also risen despite the growing use of electronic banking services, which have much lower operating costs than counter-based cash transactions.
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