Local mobile payment companies are gearing up to extend their payment services overseas after the Bank of Thailand eased foreign exchange rules.
The central bank in March eased the regulations to allow companies that hold payment licences under the law regulating e-payment to act as international money transfer agents to provide services through electronic channels such as websites and mobile phone apps.
The bank has capped overseas money transfers at 200,000 baht (US$5,750) per day per person.
TrueMoney, the e-money arm of Ascend Group, a subsidiary of True Corporation, is moving to expand into international mobile payment services through money transfers, targeting Burmese migrant workers.
“We see strong potential for the international money transfer service in Thailand, as the country was home to 3.9 million migrant workers in 2015,” said Saranrat Srichiraratana, managing director of TrueMoney.
Migrants from the neighbouring country working in Thailand transfer money home to the tune of 77 billion baht ($2.2 billion) annually, with an average of 30,000 baht ($860) worth of transactions per person per year.
Half of the existing 2 million Burmese workers have not legally registered to work in Thailand or have no legal status.
These illegal workers normally use informal methods to transfer money home, a risky and expensive ordeal.
Saranrat said TrueMoney aims to attract those unbanked migrant workers in Thailand to help them send remittances to their families and pay lower fees than the existing informal means.
Aroon Sudweha, assistant director of TrueMoney, said the company had teamed up with the Asia Green Development Bank in Burma to developed the international money transfer service.
The company will limit overseas money transfers to 200,000 baht per day per person, not exceeding 30,000 baht per transaction, she said.
TrueMoney charges customers 50 baht ($1.44) for a transaction of 100-5,000 baht ($2.88-144). The fee will double to 100 baht for transactions worth 5,000-10,000 baht ($144-288), rising to 300 baht ($8.60) for transactions over 30,000 baht.
According to the World Bank, the average global cost of sending remittances stood at 7.3 percent of the amount sent.
Aroon said the company aims to have 2.4 million transactions from the new international money transfer service within one year of operation, generating revenue of 240 million baht ($6.9 million).
TrueMoney is planning to expand into Cambodia and other countries in Southeast Asia where the markets are open to international money transfer services.
She said competition in the local e-payment and mobile wallet market is expected to be intense over the next few years.
TrueMoney aims to have 5 million users by 2017, up from 4 million currently.
Mobile leader Advanced Info Service and Total Access Communication is also looking to jump into the international money transfer market soon.