December 12, 2018 / 7:31 AM / a year ago

Thailand's KBank, Japan's Line form JV in digital banking push

BANGKOK, Dec 12 (Reuters) - Thailand fourth-largest lender Kasikornbank Pcl (KBank) said on Wednesday it formed a joint venture with Japanese mobile chat app operator Line Corp to tap into its network of users to grow personal loans.

“Traditional banks aren’t as fast as IT companies (in releasing services)... So setting up a new firm to provide financial services will better serve our customers,” KBank’s president, Patchara Samalapa, told reporters.

“We want to be part of Line’s ecosystem,” Patchara said, referring to Line’s 44 million monthly active users in Thailand.

KBank currently has 15 million digital users.

Customers will have to open a new bank account with the company, branded as Kasikorn Line, and will be able to transfer funds and apply for personal loans within the Line platform, KBank said in a statement.

The new platform, which will have its commercial launch in the second half of next year, will also serve as open architecture broker for insurance and mutual funds.

The tie-up is KBank’s latest push for digital customers. Last month it invested $50 million in ride-sharing, Grab to launch an e-payment app and tap into merchant and customer data.

The Kasikorn-Line partnership did not have immediate plans in data collaboration, Line Financial Asia’s chief operating officer, Young Eun Kim, told Reuters.

The venture would focus on financial services and integrating Line’s other products in Thailand like the e-payment platform Rabbit Line Pay, Kim told reporters.

In November, Line said it was setting up a bank with Japanese financial giant Mizuho and was also partnering with China’s Tencent Holdings Ltd to offer mobile payment services for Chinese tourists. (Reporting by Chayut Setboonsarng; Editing by Gopakumar Warrier)

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