Transforming Thailand towards a digital economy

Vocalink, a Mastercard company, is helping to transform payments in Thailand, enabling people, businesses and the Thai government to send and receive money in real-time using a mobile phone number, email address or corporate or citizen ID. 

 In October 2015 we partnered with the national operator, National Interbank Transaction Management and Exchange (ITMX) to deliver the Thai government and central bank’s Financial Services Master Plan to transform the countries financial infrastructure.

PromptPay comprises a real-time clearing and settlement infrastructure — a bespoke implementation of our Instant Payment Service with a ‘translator’ for ISO 8583 to ISO 20022 messages — and a proxy look-up service that securely maps recipient aliases to bank account details.

It took 6 months to assess business requirements, and 1.5yrs to develop the systems and onboard all banks. 

“If I pay for his food, he can just PromptPay me back.”
PromptPay user


Fast-growing adoption

PromptPay launched with 21 banks on 27 January 2017. According to the Bank of Thailand, as of July 2020 PromptPay registrations total 55.2 million; the user-base is largely between 21–37 years old.

The Bank also reports that the average ticket size has fallen from 5,585 in December 2018 to 3,875 in June 2020, suggesting the service is being used for more and more everyday items. 

Latest figures show that daily transactions average 9.6 million. In a peak month (June 2020) individual PromptPay transactions totalled 436 million, representing 14.5 million transactions a day with a combined value of 1,687 billion baht. The cumulative value of transactions was reported as 28 trillion baht (c. GBP 708bn or USD 929bn).

In less than three years the Thai real-time service has quickly established itself as one of the largest globally, both in absolute terms (total number of transactions) and in relative terms (transactions per capita). Transactions on the service jumped 147 percent to 2.6 billion in 2019, making it the fourth largest globally, equivalent to 38 transactions per capita according to publicly-available data. To put this in context, India and China's systems record around 10 transactions per capita. The speed of adoption of PromptPay in Thailand is unrivalled.


Accelerating the digital shift 

PromptPay is reducing Thailand’s reliance on a physical banking infrastructure and cash. Since going live, it has contributed significantly to the 169 percent increase in digital payments in the country between 2016 and July 2020. 

It is meanwhile enabling the expansion of Thailand’s burgeoning digital economy. As testament to its ubiquity, it’s been verbed: “If I pay for his food, he can just PromptPay me back.”