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  • KBTG sets its sights on biggest and best
    “Think Thailand, Think KBTG” vision colors Beyond the Future Day 2020 KASIKORN Bank, and its technology arm KASIKORN Business Technology Group (KBTG), are thinking big. The parent bank is pursuing a goal of becoming the best digital bank in Asia Pacific, while KBTG intends to establish itself as the region’s best tech firm. KBank claims […]

    “Think Thailand, Think KBTG” vision colors Beyond the Future Day 2020

    KASIKORN Bank, and its technology arm KASIKORN Business Technology Group (KBTG), are thinking big. The parent bank is pursuing a goal of becoming the best digital bank in Asia Pacific, while KBTG intends to establish itself as the region’s best tech firm.

    Moreover, while KBank has expanded into Laos, Myanmar and China, KBTG is sure enough of its own regional ventures to predict that it will have installed itself as the region’s biggest tech firm within three years.

    Chairman of KBTG Ruangroj ‘Krating’ Poonpol says that with the backing of its great technologies, his firm is committed to creating tech products and services to enhance the daily lives of people in the ASEAN Economic Community. At present, KBTG has about 1,500 employees, but by the end of this year, it expects its workforce to have grown to 1,900. It will also have technology-development hubs in Thailand, China, and Vietnam.

    The three hubs have been established to develop technologies in support of the service structure of KBank and its partners, and to complement the bank’s focus on digital banking.

    In China, KBTG has set up K-TECH, with a registered capital of 300 million yuan (about Bt1.5 billion), in Shenzhen, the major metropolis linking Hong Kong with mainland China. K-TECH plans to hire about 300 people there to develop financial technologies for the operations of KBank and its partners in China and elsewhere.

    “We are going to be Thailand’s biggest tech firm and also its tech-talent hub,” Ruangroj says. “In Shenzhen, we will focus on technology development and collaboration with partners, with a strong emphasis on FinTech. In Vietnam, we will have another technology-development hub. And in Thailand, we will pursue increasingly important technologies and innovations with an AI (artitificial intelligence) factory, partnerships, and Deep Tech.”

    Both KBank and KBTG believe that the bank should be omnipresent and a part of everyone’s life. ”We compete against our old self,” Ruangroj says.

    ”We look every day to see how much closer we are to our vision. Our corporate culture is ONE KBTG. We are unifying our workforce with our vision: Think Thailand, Think KBTG.”

    KBTG’s goals resonate with those of KBank, which seeks leadershiop in the ASEAN Economic Community. So far, the bank has been very successful in Quick Response (QR) services. In Laos, it has expanded its business presence from Vientiane to Savannakhet. Presently, it has 70,000 customers in Laos, and expects that number to rise quickly to about 200,000 before the end of this year.

    In Myanmar, KBank has partnered with Ayeyawaddy Farmers’ Development Bank (A Bank) through a joint venture that will see the K+ app developed as the A+ app for the local market. KBank is confident that the A+ app will be just as successful in Myanmar as K+ is in Thailand, where it is now the country’s No. 1 financial application.

    In China, KBank aims to reach out to retail customers with personal loans. It intends to tap into the massive personal-loan market in China with digital-lending services.

    Meanwhile, back in Bangkok, KBTG has two “campuses”. The first, called Chaeng Valley 2020, serves as the company’s headquarters and operation center. The second, Samyan Valley 2025, has been created as a co-innovation space and an operations center supporting KBTG’s overseas business expansion.

    Notable is the K+ Building, a five-storeyed structure with 7,000 square meters of floor space. It features a working office, a “creativity space” for generating innovations, and a “working café”. The entire facility has an informal ambience to match a “new generation” lifestyle.

    “K+ Building reflects our people and our spirit,” Ruangroj says. “It communicates our commitment to innovation.”

    Interestingly, the K+ Building also has a cleverly-designed stadium. With space constraints in mind, the seating is foldable to make it a flexible, multi-purpose facility. As well, the K+ Building has a sky garden where people can relax and enjoy the city landscape.

    One KBTG: The company’s “most important transformation”

    In the wake of the COVID-19 crisis, Thai people have quickly changed to adopt a “new normal” lifestyle. In a similar style, KBTG is staging a corporate transformation under the concept ”One KBTG”. Key aspects are agility and the creation of a “transformation community”, as KBTG strives to gather strength, so as to help Thailand to avoid an economic crisis.

    Within the “new normal” milieu, consumers have become increasingly familiar with digital technologies. E-commerce sales in Thailand, as a result, have jumped nearly three-fold. The average age of mobile-banking users has also changed, from 25 to 39 years in the past to between 40 and 50. The K+ app now has about 14 million users. It is expected to facilitate more than 20-billion financial transactions this year. K+ has also partnered with various organizations to bring financial services to all industries.

    KBTG’s ““KhunThong” application, meanwhile, has reached 500,000 members within 3 months. The “MAKE” app has undergone 20,000 downloads and Eatable, 10,000 downloads. About 20 partners have used KBTG’s Contactless Technologies. In one of the latest developments, KBTG has joined forces with the Stock Exchange of Thailand to open a new-style capital market for technology-based fundraising and investment.

    KBTG’s transformation strategies have been implemented to meet the following objectives:

    • To enable customers to keep doing business, and to educate people about saving money, investing, and buying insurance;
    • To create a good financial balance in customers’ lives, not only to cater for modern lifestyles, but also to enable them to spend their savings on investments that will secure a good life in retirement; and
    • To transform a traditional banking business into a tech firm that delivers useful innovations to everyone and enables customers to conduct transactions from anywhere.

    11 October 2020
  • Major changes at KBank’s technology arm
    KBTG boosts its strength to ‘sustain and support’ Thai economy KASIKORNBANK (KBank)’s technology arm, Kasikorn Business-Technology Group (KBTG), is undergoing a major transformation. Under a concept entitled ONE KBTG: The Next Chapter of ONE, the firm is emphasizing corporate-culture reform, an agile transformation, and creation of a ‘transformation community’. The aim, it says, is to […]

    KBTG boosts its strength to ‘sustain and support’ Thai economy

    KASIKORNBANK (KBank)’s technology arm, Kasikorn Business-Technology Group (KBTG), is undergoing a major transformation. Under a concept entitled ONE KBTG: The Next Chapter of ONE, the firm is emphasizing corporate-culture reform, an agile transformation, and creation of a ‘transformation community’. The aim, it says, is to establish KBTG as a strong tech firm whose driving force will help Thailand to avoid an economic crisis.

    Significantly, KBTG’s transformation coincides not only with seemingly irreversible changes forced upon people’s lifestyles as a consequence of the COVID-19 pandemic, but also with looming national economic woes; a coincidence that the company acknowledges in its corporate strategy.

    Kbank’s Chief Executive Officer, Kattiya Indaravijaya,

    Kbank’s Chief Executive Officer, Kattiya Indaravijaya, says the world was struggling with an economic slowdown even before the COVID-19 crisis struck. She points out that Thailand’s gross domestic product (GDP) has grown by only a few per cent per year for several years. However, In spite of the changing situation, Kbank’s goal remains unchanged: to empower every customer, individual and corporation, with full dedication.

    KBTG was established to spearhead innovations in business technologies. Its new corporate culture fosters greater productivity, reduces costs and recognizes small contributors without risking profits. It says that the innovations and technologies it is currently developing will ensure that it is ready to fulfill its mission. And its parent bank is confident.

    “Kasikornbank doesn’t need to check competitors, or focus on being ‘first’. Our key goal is to give our customers the best financial products. The world will remember the firm that delivers the best solutions or products,” Kattiya says.

    She says the strength of Thai banks – especially Kbank – is really second to none. The First Tier ratio of Thai banks stands at 15.8 per cent, and this is even higher than banks in Singapore and the United States. Moreover, their Liquidity Coverage Ratio (LCR) is a high 182 per cent – far better than banks in several other countries.

    However, while banks are strong, their customers are growing weaker due to the COVID-19 crisis. Consequently, banks have to help their customers to weather the storm. At present, Kbank’s customer portfolio has the largest numbers of Thai small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs).

    “We will move forward with our customers and partners, and turn Thailand into a powerful nation in this region. Our members may have different sets of capabilities, but we share the same goals. The new chapter of KBTG is one of our missions, and we are confident that we can make it happen with success,” Kattiya says.

    KBTG’s President, Ruangroj ‘Krating’ Poonpol

    KBTG’s President, Ruangroj ‘Krating’ Poonpol, says the world has been undergoing dramatic change. Something that might once have taken two years to happen is suddenly happening in just two months. Many Thai firms, and Thai people generally, are noticing the accelerated rate of change.

    E-commerce has now become a norm, with practically everyone placing orders online. It is as if every day has a double-date promotion (like the 9.9 Campaign, on the 9th day of the 9th month). Businesses have jumped into the online world, creating 100-per-cent growth.

    InsureTech trailed about two years behind FinTech before the COVID-19 pandemic. But after the coronavirus emerged, it was no longer difficult to sell insurance products online. In just two months, about seven-million insurance policies have been issued online, with premiums totaling Bt3 billion. Before this, it took insurance firms 10 years to sell 26 million e-insurance policies. Food-delivery businesses, meanwhile, have enjoyed 150-per-cent growth. Also trending now are online courses and exercise-at-home services. All these developments have been paving the way for the “Work, Play, Stay at Home” lifestyle, as well as the “At Home” economy.

    “Consumer behavior has changed drastically. The world has changed before you know it,” Ruangroj says.
    Sadly, such changes have perpetuated a disruption that leaves many people out of work. This year has seen the highest number of fresh graduates join the unemployed. KBTG has tried to help them by offering free online courses. It hopes the courses will record 500,000 learning hours by the end of the year.

    In Ruangroj’s opinion, enterprises must have a social license and a social obligation. Given the disruptions triggered by the COVID-19 crisis, people are turning to the business sector to lend a hand to the Thai economy and Thai society. As one example of a country facing the fact that the world has changed forever, Singapore, one of the world’s wealthiest nations, has announced that it will never be the same again.

    “KBTG is going to survive as the strongest and best tech firm in Thailand,” Ruangroj says, “and our mission is to support and sustain the Thai economy.”

    Prior to the COVID-19 crisis, KBTG had already begun its transformation. But the pandemic has forced it to accelerate its plans, under pressure from the reality that KBank is Thailand’s leading bank for SMEs, with about 40 per cent of the country’s small- and medium-sized enterprises among its customers. Recent performance shows that SMEs generate 30 per cent of Thailand’s gross domestic product and employ 85 per cent of its workforce.

    In order to convince its employees that the job they are doing is meaningful, KBank compares itself to two of the four chambers of Thailand’s heart, and nearly half of its blood vessels. Employees are invited to believe that they are stimulating the heart of Thailand and driving circulation along about 40 per cent of its blood vessels, with KBTG representing the brain of that heart. However, at present, the two remaining chambers of the heart are growing weaker, along with other parts of the body.

    KBank has thus planned a strategy to strengthen and spur the Thai economy. It has three main parts:
    Reimagining SME banking and consumer finance: Focusing on giving credit to all SME customers, KBank will agree to curb its profits and help to sustain customers‘ businesses.

    Democratize saving, investment and insurance: KBank plans to educate people, giving them financial literacy so that they learn to save money, invest, and buy the right insurance products. Such major components promise a healthy financial life. Extra cash can be used for investments, which promise a good retirement life. In the event of emergencies, there will be insurance to help.

    Penetrate regional markets: Transforming itself from a traditional bank into a tech firm, KBank is developing innovations for everyone. No matter where customers are and no matter what business they pursue, these innovations will be useful and relevant. In one of its latest developments, KBTG dispatched its first employee to Shenzhen, in China. The firm intends to raise the number of its overseas staff to 400 in the future. These people will be working at K-TECH in Shenzhen, as well as in Myanmar.

    “Early this year, KBank was named one of the best 20 banks in Asia-Pacific – the only Thai bank to receive this honor. This happened because KBank differentiated itself via KBTG. My dream now is to make KBTG a ’top-of-the-mind’ brand whenever people think of Thailand,” Ruangroj says.

    Key Components for Transformation

    In addition to its strategy to boost its business strength, KBTG has also made internal changes to empower and unify its people under the ONE KBTG concept. The three components of the concept are ONE KBTG Culture, One Step Ahead thru KBTG’s Transformatio, and Be a Part of KBTG’s Transformation.

    The company is pursuing a goal of engaging every employee in the development of innovations. Not only this, but employees are also encouraged to make their work systems more agile, reduce work times, and generate higher productivity.

    ONE KBTG Culture

    KBTG’s Head of Employee Experience and Cultural Transformation, Apireudee Singhasenee, says that because corporate culture influences people’s feelings and behavior, the capacity of a company to successfully implement its strategy depends a lot on this aspect.

    “Strategies give guidelines about how business should be conducted, what goals to pursue, what objectives should be in sharpest focus. But success ultimately depends on people and their culture,” Apireudee says.

    KBTG has planned for changes to its corporate culture in discussions with executives and target groups, as well as in workshops. The plan has four major parts:

    One step ahead: Employees are expected to think anew and do anew. In other words, they should innovate at all times. They should undertake constant development “outside the box”. The key, they are told, is to think big and start with small steps. They must learn fast and go fast. If they fall, they should stand up quickly and, avoiding the same mistakes, venture into new things.

    One goal: Employees must understand their own goals and those of their team and the company as a whole, and establish links between them. They should make sure their goals and the work they do complement the firm’s operations.

    One team: Employees are encouraged to think about moving ahead together. “We before me” is at the heart of this component. Employees are expected to look at the overall picture, and when a problem arises, they should work together to solve it. Blaming others for problems is strictly discouraged. Team members should also be in constant communication and everyone should be updated if a change occurs. Deep listening is essential. Employees should make recommendations and create solutions so that the company can move ahead.

    Number one: Employees should improve themselves all the time by searching for knowledge and pursuing “the best”. They are encouraged to maximize their potential in a bid to present the best solutions and outcomes for customers.

    “If our firm has all four elements, it will have the image of a dedicated, determined and ambitious person. It’s the type that strives to be No. 1, and presents the best to customers. If we look like this, our customers’ confidence in us will grow,” Apireudee says.

    One Step Ahead through KBTG Transformation

    The assistant managing director of the KTBG Academy, Thanussak Thanyasiri, says KBTG made several earlier transformations, but had no results to show. A ”silo mentality” prevailed to a point where staff sometimes didn’t know where to get information that they wanted. After often hearing these messages, he realized that the past transformations had not fulfilled all their goals.

    As a result, the company has undertaken the latest transformation. Thanussak’s team is in charge of removing obstacles by adopting the following five principles:

    We are agile: KBTG is changing its approach to work in order to reduce redundancy. A “BU-IT Scrum Team“ has been established to provide cross-functional work by working with product owners and supportive project partners and taking care of tasks related to security, enterprise architecture, infrastructure, and so on. At its disposal areAgile Coach and advice-giving “gurus” with experience from leading tech firms.

    How we code: Engineering excellence is used to test the quality of programs so as to encourage greater coding quality and to set higher standards. New employees are re-educated about coding. At KBTG, coding that would normally take an experienced person about 10 days to understand, takes just 10 minutes, with the help of automation.

    Automate the way we test: The quality and speed of coding is raised by end-to-end testing. Codes must be well-tested, have the highest quality and serve customers well.

    Towards fast and secured deployment: Development Security Operations (DevSecOps) is one point of focus in order to ensure that problems that usually arise in the late stages of development can be detected earlier. Automaton features should be enabled as much as possible.

    Knowledge at our fingertips: The company aims to establish a single database of system development. This will make it easier for employees to access and understand information, when it is entered into the single database from various sources.

    “This time, we are staging end-to-end reforms,” Thanussak says. “As we seek to understand problems from the beginning to the end, we have engaged all of the relevant people at KBTG. Thanks to their engagement, participants can create higher productivity, have more time for their work, and get at least two hours a day for self-learning. With this approach, our employees have higher job satisfaction and our firm enjoys greater productivity,”

    Be a part of the KBTG transformation

    The Senior Head of the Technology Academy, Chutima Kasemkornkij, says KBTG has now established a transformation community and has engaged all of its employees in the process of thinking, making recommendations, and experimenting with new ideas.

    Agility, DevSecOps, and test automation: KBTG must boost its agility with automaton, to reduce the time taken to carry out simple routine tasks. System testing, which used to be a part of downstream work, must now be treated as a part of upstream work. Testing must be done frequently.

    Knowledge Management: This element aims to ensure that employees get the right answers at the right time. To reduce staff time spent in searching for answers, all employees are encouraged to serve as content creators.

    Information is thus gathered for general use. Platform developers have also been appointed to create spaces for staff to ask questions and receive answers.

    Software development excellence: A new standard has been set for developers to improve themselves, with comments and reviews given by other developers. In this environment, anyone working on software will find it easier to learn and work faster.

    Process and service excellence: This aims to make KBTG a lean operation. If employees think that their work processes are not lean enough, they are encouraged to make recommendations.

    “We will never clinch success or help Thailand to transform if we fail to work as a team”, says KGTB President Ruangroj. “But if we are ONE KBTG, we will be ready for any battle. Our mindset will change from ‘me’ to ‘we’. Success will be meaningful only when there are friends to celebrate with. If we fall down, we will still have a shoulder to cry on and we will have the courage to fight on. Together, we will always survive”.

    At the end of an event marking the announcement of ONE KBTG: The New Chapter of One, KBank Chief Executive Kattiya told The Story Thailand that her bank was proud of KBTG. Although KBTG is relatively new, it has already created several exciting innovations, such as K PLUS. This app has already attracted more than 13 million users, and Kattiya says both she and KBank have appreciated the efforts and contribution of the bank’s technology arm.

    She adds that tech solutions are meaningless if they are not adopted by businesses for good use.

    “KBTG can go very far. Its customers are not just here in Thailand, but also beyond. We want to bring good things to the whole region,” she says.

    10 October 2020
  • SET partners with KBTG to launch end-to-end digital-assets platform
    New service to ‘harness creativity’ by broadening investment and fundraising opportunities The Stock Exchange of Thailand (SET) is about to launch a fully integrated Distributed Ledger Technology (DLT)-based service for investment in digital assets, ranging from links with Initial Coin Offering (ICO) portals and digital-asset exchanges to digital wallets. ‘IoT will change our way of […]

    New service to ‘harness creativity’ by broadening investment and fundraising opportunities

    The Stock Exchange of Thailand (SET) is about to launch a fully integrated Distributed Ledger Technology (DLT)-based service for investment in digital assets, ranging from links with Initial Coin Offering (ICO) portals and digital-asset exchanges to digital wallets.

    The digital-assets initiative, which is designed to comply with the policies of the Thai Securities and Exchange Commission, is a collaborative development with KASIKORNBANK (KBank)’s technology arm, Kasikorn Business-Technology Group (KBTG). It is expected to go live next year.

    The service will broaden fundraising and investment opportunities that arise from the harnessing of creativity, unleashing unlimited growth under related laws and regulatory frameworks.

    The SET is also poised to join with other partners to create “a complete digital-asset ecosystem to enhance its capabilities at an international level”.

    SET President Pakorn Peetathawatchai said the SET had established a new company – the Thai Digital Assets Exchange Co. Ltd – to continuously drive the development of the end-to-end digital-assets platform. It will cover (1) ICO portal connectivity for participants with products that match the demands of both investors and issuers; (2) a digital-assets exchange as a secondary market; and (3) a digital wallet to securely store digital tokens.

    The innovative service will not only provide new channels for fundraisers, but also create investment opportunities in alternative assets, following on the enactment of a Royal Decree on Digital Asset Businesses under the regulation and supervision of the SEC, which became effective in 2018.         

    “The SET and KBTG have collaborated to design a prototype of an open digital-asset platform, enabling all participants from the capital market, financial markets and real and social sectors to use it in a transparent and fair manner, under generally accepted rules with which all parties will comply,” Pakorn said.

    “With this partnership, KBTG will be the first ICO-portal service provider to link up to the SET-initiated platform. At this stage, both parties are assessing the feasibility and analyzing benefits for all involved parties and preparing to apply for relevant digital-asset operating licenses from the SEC.

    “The SET is aiming for the first token fundraising on the impending platform to commence in 2021. The platform is one of the SET’s strategic projects, initiated in line with the government’s policy towards developing the country’s digital economy, as well as catering to the future needs of fundraisers and investors. Moreover, this platform will eventually connect to the Digital Infrastructure for Capital Market, aligned with the SEC’s vision and policy,” he said.  

    KBTG Chairman Ruangroj Poonpol said the partnership with the SET to develop the end-to-end digital-assets platform originated with a mutual vision to expand investment channels and broaden fundraising opportunities. As well as current financial products, it will also offer alternative products with various returns and risks. The development is in line with KBank’s strategy of focusing on providing democratized savings and investment services for its customers. 

    “KBTG has expertise as one of the pioneers in infrastructure development for the electronic Letter of Guarantee on Blockchain technology, by jointly working with BCI (Thailand) to make the company one of the country’s first movers in putting the technology into practice.

    “Our collaboration with the SET aims to develop an open platform that creates new opportunities for Thai businesses, by allowing them to tap into new sources of funding to foster their growth potential. The new platform is expected to be more flexible than existing solutions in the market, by designing offered tokens that incorporate traits of equity, bond, and mutual fund units that not only deliver monetary returns, but also utility rights. This gives asset-backed tokens issued by ICO Portal an interesting aspect. We believe that this collaboration will be a turning point in the country’s fundraising and investment landscape in the next few years,” Ruangroj said.         

    Participants interested in mobilizing funds through the digital-assets platform should contact either the SET’s Capital Market Utility Department by e-mail at DigitalAssetPlatform@set.or.th, or KBTG at DigitalAsset@kbtg.tech.  

    7 October 2020
  • NESCAFÉ commits to sustainability with Thai-designed innovative packaging
    Coffee firm makes furniture from used instant-coffee sachets Packaging innovations by the familiar instant-coffee brand NESCAFÉ are carrying one of Thailand’s favorite beverages towards a waste-free future. Among the developments revealed this month as part of NESCAFÉ’s observance of International Coffee Day on October 1 was a new monostructure plastic sachet that was developed in […]

    Coffee firm makes furniture from used instant-coffee sachets

    Packaging innovations by the familiar instant-coffee brand NESCAFÉ are carrying one of Thailand’s favorite beverages towards a waste-free future.

    Among the developments revealed this month as part of NESCAFÉ’s observance of International Coffee Day on October 1 was a new monostructure plastic sachet that was developed in Thailand and has been under testing here for several months, with a view to its use throughout NESCAFÉ’s world markets. And to prove its environmentally friendly innovations, it has made dining tables for 100 schools out of recycled plastic instant-coffee sachets.

    Another milestone this month is the company’s switch to 100% recycled aluminum cans for the entirety of its ready-to-drink canned coffee range, making NESCAFÉ one of the first brands in the Thai market to commit to such a change.

    As part of its celebration of International Coffee Day, the company has announced a NESCAFÉ Day campaign under the concept “Nurturing Stronger Bonds, Brewing It Forward.” The Bt200-million campaign features the launch of upscale showcases that reinforce the NESCAFÉ BLEND & BREW brand’s commitment to sustainability, with upcycled items such as dining tables and eco-furniture, at NESCAFÉ Hubs and the NESCAFÉ Street Café.

    The campaign is part of parent-company Nestlé’s global sustainability goal of transforming all packaging to be 100% recyclable or reusable by 2025.

    It also complies with the Thailand government’s 2018-2030 plastic-waste management plan.

    Quoting studies of consumer behavior by UK-based market-research firm Kantar, NESCAFÉ says 63% of Thais consider plastic waste to be one of the top five environmental concerns. Data from the Pollution Control Department shows that in 2019, Thais generated up to 1.14 kilograms of plastic waste per person per day, with about 27.04 million tons of plastic waste generated in Thailand every year.

    The company has two key strategies for maintaining a sustainable business operation: introducing innovative green packaging and contributing to a waste-free future by upcycling used packaging into a variety of value-added items.

    The Business Manager for Nestlé (Thailand)’s NESCAFÉ Coffee Mixes, Naritta Vipulyasekha, said that Thais drink 20,000 cups of NESCAFÉ every minute, or 300 cups every second. Her company has thus made sustainable waste management a top priority.

    “Last year, we changed NESCAFÉ PROTECT PROSLIM’s secondary packaging to paper, the first time NESCAFÉ used this type of packaging anywhere in the world,” she said “This year, to improve plastic packaging, we have taken on the major challenge of making NESCAFÉ sachets more easily recyclable. Normal coffee sachets use a variety of materials to preserve the quality of the coffee they contain, and this makes them difficult to recycle.”

    Working together with leading film-laminate manufacturers and research and engineering teams from Nestlé Switzerland and Singapore, Nestlé Thailand’s packaging development team developed more than 20 packaging prototypes over a two-year period.

    The successful result was the world’s first monostructure plastic sachet for NESCAFÉ PROTECT PROSLIM, introduced around the middle of this year, that retains the taste, smell, and freshness of the packaged coffee while being fully designed for recycling.

    “We are gradually introducing this monostructure packaging innovation across the entire NESCAFÉ BLEND & BREW product portfolio, starting with the 25% Less Sugar and No Sugar variants. This will be complete by the first quarter of next year,” Naritta said. “Thai people can be proud of this packaging innovation, as the concept was developed here, and Thailand is the first country in which it has been introduced. It will eventually expand to other markets worldwide.”

    NESCAFÉ is also demonstrating the addition of value to product packaging through upcycling, which maximizes the use of plastic. Its NESCAFÉ Day campaign is using more than 100 million NESCAFÉ BLEND & BREW sachets that were sent in by Thai coffee lovers taking part in various lucky-draw campaigns over the past year.

    The sachets have been upcycled into eco-friendly materials such as wood-plastic composites that have been used to make dining tables for 100 schools across the country, as well as eco-furniture for the NESCAFÉ Hubs. The eco-friendly materials made from the used sachets will also be featured at the NESCAFÉ Street Café, which will be set up as a prototype for additional locations in the future.

    NESCAFÉ is also one of the first ready-to-drink canned coffee brands in the Thai market to switch entirely to 100% recycled aluminum cans. The switch will be completed this month.

    NESCAFÉ’s ready-to-drink brand has also initiated a contest to create new items from used aluminum cans. The contest will run from October onwards, but already it has led to a collaborative effort with a lecturer at Rayong Polytechnic College, who created a robot prototype from used aluminum cans. It accepts voice orders from people and offers samples of drinks, and demonstrates how waste can be transformed into innovations that benefit society.

    “We hope that our commitment to sustainability will inspire more Thai people to switch to green packaging, which will help to create a Thai society that is waste-free in the future,” Naritta said.

    She added that there would be another special NESCAFÉ Day campaign this year – the launch of Red Pillar 2020, a concept based on the brand’s core strategy of nurturing stronger bonds with consumers.

    2 October 2020
  • ‘IoT will change our way of life’: dtac
    Service provider sees three decades of digital transformation after COVID It is hard to regard the COVID-19 pandemic as having a “silver lining”, but from the viewpoint of new technology, it is bringing many Thai businesses and industries closer to the magic of the Internet of Things. Dtac launches big drive for business customers dtac […]

    Service provider sees three decades of digital transformation after COVID

    It is hard to regard the COVID-19 pandemic as having a “silver lining”, but from the viewpoint of new technology, it is bringing many Thai businesses and industries closer to the magic of the Internet of Things.

    The IoT has “been around” in Thailand for about five years, but remains little understood. Basically, it uses the internet to connect computing devices that are embedded in everyday objects, enabling them to send and receive data. Automation is one of its great strengths, and in many overseas countries it has been in increasingly heavy use for about 10 years. Now, it has a vital role to play in Thailand’s transformation to Thailand 4.0, achieving the country’s Industry 4.0 vision, and the digital makeover of its business sector.

    At an international level, IoT growth has helped to answer the need for greater automation in many industries. But in Thailand, the energy sector is presently the biggest user of IoT. The country’s industrial and service sectors are expected to follow, with providers of transportation and financial services in the lead.

    The Head of IoT for B2B Solutions at Total Access Communication (dtac), Narit Duangkruaratichote, told The Story Thailand that the COVID-19 crisis had increased the presence of IoT in the industrial sector for four main reasons: to reduce costs, boost productivity, increase revenue and enhance development of innovations.

    Until recently, IoT was seen mainly as a tool to curb costs, because the cost of labor was a prominent concern in the industrial sector. However, if industrial operators automate their operations with IoT, they can say goodbye to both unwieldy workforces and manually controlled machinery.

    So, an increasing number of industrial operators have embraced IoT, and buoyed by the new technologies, their systems have become more automated and easier to operate. Machines with IoT features can be controlled and monitored over the internet, so users need no more than smartphones to easily and efficiently control their operations.

    For the industrial sector, IoT has already increased productivity, reduced production time and enhanced production continuity. At the same time, consumers’ needs are keeping pace with rapidly advancing technologies, and all businesses face the need to create new user experiences to generate income.

    IoT is therefore attracting huge attention. It is ready to play a role in the development of innovations, and several enterprises have launched research-and-development projects to upgrade their innovations to boost efficiency, reduce costs, save time, and minimize errors.

    While it may not be obvious, IoT is assuming a growing presence in people’s lives. Banks, property developers and various other service providers have integrated IoT into their customer services. For example, “Smart Homes” are now being built with a high complement of IoT technologies.

    Dtac’s role in the IoT market

    Narit says that, as a telecom operator, dtac has a mission to educate all sectors of Thai society about the importance and benefits of IoT, and how these technologies can be applied to benefit their industries and lifestyles.

    The first users of IoT in Thailand were large enterprises, but in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, other enterprises are realizing the urgent need to adopt this new technology. A huge number of businesses are looking for ways to reduce their expenses and increase their productivity.

    For example, many enterprises have deployed IoT devices to check the temperature of visitors. Others use IoT for facial-recognition features, office automation, and remote working. In the transportation sector, IoT solutions help to track deliveries.

    “In my opinion, had the COVID-19 crisis not occurred, it would have taken another one or two years for the public to understand IoT and its benefits. But because the crisis has taken place, every organization is prioritizing IoT,” Narit said.

    As the business sector accelerates its digital transformation, more human staff will be replaced by technologies. The upcoming arrival of 5G cellular technology is also expected to significantly increase the use of IoT. The new 5G will have very low latency – that is, the time between the initiation of an event and its perception by an observer or receiver. With the existing 4G technology, it is possible to connect thousands of IoT devices together. But with 5G, each network will be capable of connecting millions of IoT sensors together. When backed by 5G, a network’s data-transmission efficiency will therefore increase considerably. Robots, for example, will be able to operate with greater accuracy. The outstanding benefits of 5G are expected to spur massive growth in the use of IoT.

    Dtac believes that the COVID-19 pandemic will encourage enterprises with ready cash to quickly invest in IoT – if for no other reason, to help them to implement social-distancing measures and work-from-anywhere mode. It also promises to reduce costs at a time when many enterprises have budget constraints and the country is facing economic recession.

    For example, several enterprises have applied IoT in asset tracking, remote monitoring of machines, and preventive maintenance. With IoT, it is possible to monitor the status of devices at industrial plants, banks’ wireless electronic data-capture devices, and stocks at warehouses catering to e-commerce. Such monitoring is good not only for maintenance. but also for security. At hospitals, IoT devices can check the temperature of people entering and leaving, and in the energy sector, they can constantly monitor moisture levels inside electricity-distribution boards.

    Dtac Business offers IoT technologies via partnerships

    Dtac’s IoT Business offers more than 10 IoT solutions via partners specializing in network equipment. Backed by Telenor’s tech expertise, dtac also boasts an efficient and highly-secure Managed IoT Cloud platform. This dtac network requires modest bandwidth and encrypts all data sent from IoT devices.

    At the heart of dtac’s operations lies a customer-centric approach, so its comprehensive range of solutions is well designed to give customers greater ease and convenience. Customers do not have to worry about installations and implementation. They are able to focus on their core business operations, boost their growth, and find new sources of income in spite of economic challenges and digital disruption.

    Dtac has accorded importance to IoT because it is a core part of new solutions that can add value to customers’ businesses under three main categories: Smart City, Smart Industry and Smart Life.

    For “Smart City”, dtac works with both government agencies and private entities to establish ecosystems and integrate smart solutions into smart cities. The company is a major contributor to the integration of smart solutions in Eastern Economic Corridor (EEC) zones. For “Smart Industry”, dtac serves customers in the transportation, banking, agriculture and service industries. To upgrade its business, it has also created “Smart Offices” for customers. Using IoT technology, air conditioners, temperature controls and moisture levels are easily managed. And on a bigger scale, dtac employs IoT devices to measure outdoor temperature, moisture levels, PM2.5 pollution, and floodwater levels to create a “Smart Environment”.

    “We also have Narrowband IoT, or NBIoT, in our pipeline. We are going to test it with 5G. With NBIoT, devices can save energy because they are directly connected to a dtac network. They do not have to communicate via a gateway. Such a bypass can make a big difference. In some use cases, the application will allow big improvements,” Narit said.

    When it comes to “Smart Life”, dtac offers IoT solution for individual customers. The property sector has been the first to take advantage of these innovations. Designed for “Smart Homes”, or other aspects of living, these solutions aim to help people to live and work with greater comfort and convenience. At home, lighting can automatically turn on and off and room temperatures are constantly checked. Healthcare businesses, meanwhile, have worked with dtac in the development of “Smart Watch”, providing constant monitoring of patients’ health conditions.

    IoT to be “mainstream” in 30 years

    GSMA – the UK based Global System for Mobile Communications – forecasts that within the next five years, the world’s IoT market will be worth USD1.1 trillion, because 5G, IoT, AI (artificial intelligence) and Cloud promise to surge to enormous popularity at around the same time, and complement one another.

    These technologies will combine to produce countless practical solutions. Being aware of this situation, mobile-phone service providers are now focused on delivering services via platforms, applications, and more. Their focus is no longer limited to connectivity.

    As enterprises seek out tech solutions for business development, IoT is expected to play a key role over the next three decades.

    “IoT is going to change our way of life. With IoT, large enterprises will almost completely change. It will take time for SMEs to transform in the same way, though, because IoT adoption will need additional investment,” Narit said.

    As for its own future, dtac has now embraced the concept of Co-Creation Solutions. These begin with dtac seeking out partners or potential customers that are about to demand certain IoT solutions. Then, through its partnerships, the joint development or co-creation of the solutions is launched. The first targets for dtac’s Co-Creation Solutions will be large enterprises.

    Another of dtac’s business models involves capitalizing on its strengths as a leading provider of connectivity and data services. Based on this model, dtac is offering its platform to app developers.

    “Dtac has its selling points,” Narit concluded. “Our platform is solid and internationally recognized. Our Managed IoT Cloud (MIC) is highly secure. We have Message Queuing Telemetry Transport (MQTT) to ensure safe app development. Boasting a really good platform, we are internationally recognized as an industry leader. Today, we are ready to serve every sector of Thailand for further national development.”

    29 September 2020
  • Dtac launches big drive for business customers
    New Business Group launches three solutions for Thai Businesses/SMEs With its eyes firmly on post-COVID-19 recovery, Thailand’s third-largest GSM mobile-phone provider, dtac, has adjusted its business concept and has established a dtac Business Group aimed at better understanding and responding to its customers’ needs. Dtac launches new e-waste disposal campaign dtac is Set to Make […]

    New Business Group launches three solutions for Thai Businesses/SMEs

    With its eyes firmly on post-COVID-19 recovery, Thailand’s third-largest GSM mobile-phone provider, dtac, has adjusted its business concept and has established a dtac Business Group aimed at better understanding and responding to its customers’ needs.

    After extensive consultations with customers and guided by the new concept, the company has vowed to make it easier for customers to understand the hi-tech solutions that are relevant to their needs. It is now highlighting three business solutions focused on mobility, the Internet of Things, and “SmartConnect” cloud services. It says that all three are not only easy to use, but also easy to understand.

    The deputy CEO for SME Business at Total Access Communications (dtac), Rajiv Bawa, speaks of Thai businesses ranging in size from one-man companies, to small, medium-sized, and large enterprises. He says these businesses have different needs, but small enterprises, in particular, usually face a range of challenges from personnel to competitors, technologies and management issues.

    Consultations with all of its customers have led dtac to understand their different business contexts and problems. The goal now is to develop solutions for them all.

    “We have accorded importance to all groups, regardless of size. We have striven to support their businesses; to help them to sell their products or services,” he said.

    The COVID-19 crisis has forced businesses to adjust their methods. Even those that were reluctant to abandon traditional ways of working have made drastic changes. SMEs, for example, have started using digital and cloud technologies – something unimaginable to them in the past.

    Mobile phones and internet access at home have also become increasingly important. Recognizing this fact, dtac has striven to ensure that its staff can work from anywhere and conduct business discussions with customers with the same level of security as when they were based at an office.

    Rajiv said the dtac Business Group had developed “e-care” – an online platform for service delivery that offers customizable solutions. Corporate clients can adjust the solutions available on the platform for use with their own customers. For example, a hospital using dtac solutions may adjust them to enable easy connections with its patients.

    The Business Group is also offering “e-store”, in which customers may adjust their packages and pay service fees without a need for face-to-face dealings. Dtac has also established a Business Call Center (Hotline 1431) solely for corporate clients.

    “Our mission is to make it easiest for customers to understand technical issues that are relevant to their needs. Our solutions must be easy to use, so that our customers are free from worry and can run their businesses smoothly,” Rajiv said.

    Focus on 5G, IoT and Cloud

    Dtac believes that all businesses will eventually embrace the Internet of Things (IoT), or the interconnection via the internet of computing devices embedded in everyday objects, enabling them to send and receive data.

    Back in 2018, the IoT market in Thailand was worth Bt3.6 billion. It is expected to grow to a value of Bt9.6 billion by 2023, so dtac is working seriously on the development of an IoT platform and ecosystem, through collaboration with business partners.

    “In the first phase, our IoT initiatives involve investment,” Rajiv said. “But in the long run, our costs will reduce by between 30 and 40 per cent, and once 5G arrives, our costs will plunge even further.”

    Dtac has already tested 5G on the 26GHz band in collaboration with several industrial plants. The aim was to test the efficiency of 5G solutions being sought by those plants, and together to develop cases involving the use of 5G. Rajiv is now confident that before the end of this year, his firm will be able to present these use cases as proof of efficient solutions.

    Dtac has also made it a mission to provide a smooth link for businesses wanting to move their systems to Cloud. When backed by dtac services, customers will now be able to connect with Cloud solution providers.

    Three solutions for Thai businesses

    Mobility: Dtac has launched WorryFree SIM cards to smooth over customers’ “pain points”. Many of the company’s business customers reported facing unexpected expenses after call charges and data usage by their staff exceeded limits without generating extra benefits.

    WorryFree SIM cards will solve these problems by enabling users to upgrade their mobile-service packages without new subscriptions. Corporate customers, new and old, will also be able to adjust their service packages without the need to contact dtac’s call center.

    Moreover, the company’s Mobile Care and Mobile PBX services enable customers to manage their own call and internet-data limits. In the future, more such features will be made available.

    Internet of Things (IoT): This aspect of dtac’s business services is being developed in collaboration with business partners that specialize in connectivity and related devices. Thanks to this partnership, dtac has recently developed more than 10 IoT solutions for application across various industries.

    Dtac now has a secure platform for IoT-device management. It has taken more than a year to develop the Managed IoT cloud platform, which operates on Telenor’s 4G network and works well with IoT SIM cards. The platform deploys Message Queuing Telemetry Transport (MQTTS) protocol, requires little bandwidth, and applies TLS 1.2 encryption when taking data from IoT devices.

    Three conceptual focuses of dtac’s IoT-solution development are “Smart City”, “Smart Industry” and “Smart Life”. In “Smart City”, dtac works with both government agencies and private entities to establish ecosystems and integrate smart solutions into smart cities, including the Eastern Economic Corridor (EEC) zones. With regard to “Smart Industry”, as mentioned above, dtac has developed use cases across the transportation, banking, industrial, agricultural and service sectors. For “Smart Life”, dtac has prepared systems that make it easier for people to work and live. For example, it offers sensors to enable automatic lighting and temperature settings for housing units.

    SmartConnect: Dtac has now positioned itself as a multi-cloud aggregator. In other words, it offers efficient access to several Cloud service providers. This access is available through both connectivity and mobility, and is provided through dtac’s collaboration with its partners. The partnership model is SmartConnect, powered by NetFoundry. With this model, dtac’s customers can connect to and send or receive data between headquarters and branches from anywhere. It is possible to connect to a public or hybrid cloud via SmartConnect, and it is safe, efficient, and saves costs.

    “We have given a lot of importance to partnerships, with a goal of creating a proper ecosystem with business solutions for our customers. Dtac will never stop growing alongside its customers. Focusing on their pain points, we will give our customers the best answers and the best care,” Rajiv said.

    28 September 2020
  • AIS advises Thais to prepare for “Life After the Crisis”
    Internet leader opens staff academy to the public; warns of challenging times ahead

    Internet leader opens staff academy to the public; warns of challenging times ahead

    Thailand’s biggest mobile-phone network provider, AIS, has intensified its campaign to prepare Thai people for life after the Covid-19 crisis, which it warns may be more difficult and challenging than many expect.

    Just two months ago, the company issued a rallying call to “all stakeholders and industry leaders in all sectors” to join it in a concerted and coordinated drive to “fight for the recovery of the country and create sustainable growth.” At the same time, it announced investment of between Bt35 and Bt45 billion this year to build a 5G-based telecommunications infrastructure to cover all 77 provinces.

    Now, the giant company has thrown open to the public the AIS Academy, a five-year-old learning establishment that has hitherto been accessible only to AIS staff. It has urged all Thais wishing to enhance their chances of future employment to use its online learning services, and has warned that “Life After the Crisis” will not be easy.

    AIS’s Chief Human Resources Officer Kantima Lerlertyuttitham said the COVID-19 crisis has drastically changed lifestyles. With social-distancing measures in place, people have gone online to conduct various activities, so it follows that technological development will now move ahead faster, and “with greater ferocity and diversity”. Digital technologies will blend into people’s lives much more, and people should acquire the abilities to not just live with technologies, but also to use them to their advantage.

    People have already turned to online banking, online meetings and webinars, But while the online world is full of knowledge, it is also unrestrained; people may post whatever they want, and cyberspace bullying is intensifying. For their part, employers may use the public record of social media to assess the online behavior of job applicants.

    Kantima said employment formats look set to change in “Life After the Crisis”. People may no longer want to serve as full-time employees; they will look for jobs that match their expertise and allow them to work from anywhere. But such employment conditions will only be available to applicants with a proven capacity for personal discipline.

    In the turmoil of the COVID-19 pandemic, many people have lost their jobs as enterprises turn more to technologies to restrain expenditure on human resources. Within companies, departments that doggedly work in “the same old way,” may find themselves laid off. However, a reassuring aspect of these developments is the undeniable fact that technologies are not really useful without human users.
    Grim facts of a crisis yet to begin

    Kantima said “Life After the Crisis” has not yet started. The crisis itself, which will see many people become unemployed, will happen first. Technologies will be gradually replacing human staff from now on.

    She pointed out that many companies recovered well from the Tom Yum Kung crisis because they were serious about developing their human resources during the critical period. However, in the current crisis, everyone is preoccupied with curbing costs and investing in technologies rather than human resources. This has created widespread anxiety about being replaced by technologies. In fact, she said, the bottom line is that those people who will be replaced will be those who fail to keep improving themselves.

    Kantima warned that the number of jobless people in Thailand will keep rising, and the dangerous part of the ongoing crisis is that all those people who are enjoying working from home will fail to recognize the risk of imminent job loss.

    “We think the impacts of COVID-19 will last longer than those of any earlier crisis. This is because the pandemic has affected the whole world. People with capital and preparedness will face lesser adverse impacts, though, because they will be ready to deal with changes,” she said.

    At present, the COVID-19 crisis as being used by some companies as an opportunity to lay off some of their current employees in order to recruit new people for tasks that seem to have growing importance. For example, employers are now interested in hiring data analysts, or people with digital skills and knowledge of cyber security. Even human-resources staff are required to have data-analytics skills.

    “Technologies can definitely handle routines, and if technologies can replace you at work, it means that your contributions will not have sufficient value,” she said.

    Adapting to survive

    In Kantima’s opinion, COVID-19 has warned human kind of the need to revolutionize. Still, she said, it seems people are paying more attention to the development of vaccines than development of their own skills, and they risk being left behind if they do not improve themselves. Moreover, if their employers do not lend a hand in this development process, there will be bigger gaps between those who keep improving and those who do not.

    She said fresh graduates in 2021 will find it harder to get jobs because companies will first try to keep their existing staff. For example, human resources departments are being disrupted by the introduction of many tech solutions for recruitment and document management. This means that staff members who remain unable to analyze data and apply results to business needs or align them with human abilities will no longer be needed. In this environment, fresh graduates who cannot find employment right away may lose the opportunity to develop themselves further in 2021.

    “When we buy a phone, we want the best and most expensive model. But do we really use all of its features?”

    Today, the answer to this question applies to not just smart phones, but also to any other device driven by the Internet of Things (IoT). Such gadgets will become common household appliances in the future. In Thailand, only the affluent currently use IoT devices, and they are deployed only in their homes. In overseas countries, IoT devices serve many more functions. For example, they can help with food ordering. To put it simply, IoT gadgets can be used to handle tasks of little value and free up human staff for work with higher value. But if human staff do not develop an ability to perform these higher tasks, they will be overtaken by tech solutions.

    “We believe technologies will identify the strongest for survival”

    Kantima said that AIS would use a new approach to the recruitment of new staff. In the past, people were keen to work full-time. But in the new era, people just want a job that they are capable of doing and get paid based on their performance.

    Working at the office will not be mandatory because, with the help of technologies, people can work effectively from anywhere. But she emphasized that only those people with solid discipline will work well in such conditions, so AIS will need to be impressed by applicants’ records of a disciplined approach to performance. When staff have such discipline, working conditions can be very flexible; working hours can be flexible and some staff may be based at home. However, she warned of a threat to health from working at home because such people lack human interaction, and this is an indispensable factor in a happy working life.

    “The New Normal” and working from home are not the same thing

    Next year, many fresh graduates will leave universities only to become unemployed. Therefore, AIS is looking to its own operations for ways to give these fresh graduates opportunities to accumulate work experience. Such experience should then be valuable when they apply for jobs later on.

    Sharing knowledge with the public

    In its latest move, AIS has decided to offer knowledge from the AIS Academy to the Thai public. Established five years ago, the academy features a great range of online courses. In the past, these courses were available to AIS staff only, in order for them to access knowledge, develop themselves and become reliable human resources capable of contributing to the company’s future. However, AIS now intends to throw open the AIS Academy so its courses can be shared equally and comprehensively with Thais across the country.

    Kantima said the AIS Academy was established because the company wanted an institute that could take care of developing its human resources by using a new tech-enabled learning approach. Not only does the academy integrate technologies into its learning processes, but it also partners with leading overseas higher-education institutes such as the Howard University School, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Stanford University in the United States and the University of Manchester in the UK. The academy also has partners in Thailand and elsewhere in Asia who have brought tech-enabled deliveries of knowledge to AIS staff. Those staff members who enrolled in online courses were required to make preparations prior to workshops, talks and sessions to create career paths.

    “We have now recognized that driving AIS’s growth alone is not enough,” Kantima said. “For AIS to thrive, Thai society must prosper as well. As a result, we would like to reduce any gap in human development in the country. More often than not, human development has been restricted only to affordable organizations, or among people who can afford it.”

    In pursuit of its own growth, AIS is therefore aiming to upgrade Thai society by introducing a mission called “Care about You”. Part of this mission is the emergence of ACADEMY for THAIs. Whatever knowledge AIS has created, it is now offered not only to AIS staff, but also to outsiders. Members of the general public are welcome to study with AIS, without any trade strings attached.

    The AIS Academy has thus been tasked with upgrading AIS’s human resources, helping Thai society to grow, and giving Thai public access to knowledge. Moreover, AIS has lately launched LearnDi for THAIs – a new learning platform that brings AIS-based knowledge to the public.

    “We have found that when it comes to knowledge searches, people are relying quite a lot on the internet. So, we have categorized and verified pieces of so-called knowledge in the online world. This has been quite a challenge. But we are now ready to distribute verified knowledge via two channels: the AIS Academy fanpage (https://www.facebook.com/AISAcademyforThais) and LearnDi for THAIs, so as to bring knowledge to society,” Kantima said.

    Content for Thais is based on a Life-Long Learning Journey theme, with the AIS Academy serving as a thinking partner. For example, if people are planning a wedding, AIS Academy can help them by preparing what they need to know. Likewise, many people may be clueless about financial planning. On this topic, AIS Academy can help too. Overall, the AIS Academy can provide knowledge that extends far beyond the scope of technologies, to anything that is useful to life.

    AIS has sometimes turned to other organizations for content development. When it does so, it makes sure its partners understand that the content is not designed solely for AIS staff. Therefore, content integrates knowledge from other fields, and the variety on offer is quite impressive.

    Another key element is the use of unconventional learning methods, since the “old ways” may no longer fit in a society that is changing in the wake of the COVID-19 crisis. In a way, the world is getting narrower: people must communicate even though they do not physically meet, and Thais must be prepared to deal with this so as to remain competitive.

    Constant knowledge development

    AIS expects that its initiatives will provide Thais with reliable sources of knowledge. Yet the company is still striving to further develop its learning platforms, with an emphasis on quality, rather than quantity. It believes the most important concept is to prepare correct and accurate knowledge for Thais.

    “Everyone will be able to access knowledge via mobile applications or the website, just like AIS staff,” Kantima said. Content in LearnDi for THAIs covers a wide range of topics, including leadership, digital knowledge, work skills and knowledge useful to living.

    Finally, Kantima pointed out that AIS previously implemented a project called “Aunjai Volunteers for Occupational Development.” Under this initiative, knowledge of AIS staff was shared with interested participants in the hope of helping them to gain vocational skills and livelihoods.

    “The current crisis has cost many jobs,” she said. “So, we want to give a means of livelihood to Thais through the distribution of knowledge. In the past, our corporate social responsibility (CSR) activities had our staff building libraries, toilets, and the like. Now, our CSR will focus on occupational development.”

    17 September 2020
  • Dtac launches new e-waste disposal campaign
    Collection boxes at all dtac Hall shops aim for zero landfill by 2022 Thailand’sthird-largest GSM mobile-phone provider, dtac, has launched a campaign to collect electronic waste at its dtac Hall shops throughout the country. The electronics firm, which sells hundreds of thousands of mobile phones each year and generates considerable quantities of in-house e-waste, says […]

    Collection boxes at all dtac Hall shops aim for zero landfill by 2022

    Thailand’sthird-largest GSM mobile-phone provider, dtac, has launched a campaign to collect electronic waste at its dtac Hall shops throughout the country. The electronics firm, which sells hundreds of thousands of mobile phones each year and generates considerable quantities of in-house e-waste, says the campaign will make it a “zero landfill” operator by 2022.

    The move comes amid growing international concern about disposal of used, broken or obsolete electronic devices, many of which contain contaminants capable of polluting areas near landfills if disposed of improperly. This can impact the health of nearby communities.  

    Dtac’s journey to zero landfill has begun with the installation of blue e-waste disposal boxes at all of its dtac Hall shops. The boxes, and the campaign, are named “Think Hai D”. 

    After a comprehensive selection process, dtac has also named its e-waste recycling partner in the “Think Hai D” campaign. The waste will be processed to international standards by TES, a global leader in environmentally-friendly electronic-waste recycling.

    TES will collect disused mobile phones and electronic devices from dtac’s “Think Hai D” boxes, and will begin their disposal with an inventory detailing the number of items and their weight. The e-waste will then be sorted into different categories such as mobile phones, batteries, earphones, charging cables and power banks. Items will then be dismantled and parts sorted according to their materials.

    The dismantled parts will then be sent to a TES processing facility in Singapore, where precious materials like gold, copper, palladium and lithium will be retrieved, along with iron, aluminum and plastics. These materials may then be used as raw materials in new manufacturing processes. The process is able to recover 96 to 98 per cent of raw materials before reintroducing them into the circular economy.

    In launching its campaign, dtac said proper e-waste management would contribute to preserving limited natural resources, reducing carbon footprints and achieving the company’s goal of zero landfill.

    A survey by the Department of Environment on management of disused e-wastes has underlined the need to “Think Hai D” and be concerned about e-waste. It found that more than half of users sell their obsolete devices to waste buyers. These buyers dismantle the e-waste devices and sell any retrievable parts. However, the remaining waste is improperly disposed of as general household trash, and heads for landfills where it can be a source of pollutants that contaminate the air, soil and water. 

    The Senior vice-President of Total Access Communications (dtac’s) Communications and Sustainability Division, On-uma Rerkpattanapipat

    The Senior vice-President of Total Access Communications (dtac’s) Communications and Sustainability Division, On-uma Rerkpattanapipat, said the “Think Hai D” program offers a convenient solution for those who want to properly dispose of electronic devices like old mobile phones and accessories in a safe and environmentally-friendly way. 

    “As a major telecom operator, dtac sells hundreds of thousands of mobile devices each year. We aim to do business responsibly, according to an Environmental and Climate Management System under the dtac sustainability policy. Apart from our commitment to collect e-waste from consumers, dtac also responsibly manages e-waste generated by our own operations. The company is committed to managing all collected and internally produced e-waste with the target of zero landfill within 2022,” he said.

    Dtac also revealed the exacting process by which its e-waste recycling partner, TES, was selected. Risks such as good governance and environmental management were vital aspects of the qualification process, including consent to dtac’s Agreement of Responsible Business Conduct. Candidates had to have a valid Department of Industrial Works factory license type-106 for proper e-waste recycling and disposal, as well as being certified to NIST 800-88R1 standard – one of the most widely used data-sanitization standards for electronic devices.

    TES, which was established in 2005, is certified to international standards and is established at 38 locations in more than 20 countries. All of its facilities are certified to ISO14001, OSHAH18001, ISO9001 and ISO27001. TES focuses on sustainable development and provides comprehensive electronic-waste management services, data security, refurbishing and recycling. 

    Helping the formulation of its “Think Hai D” program, Dtac has years of experience in e-waste recycling. In 2019, it collected 213,476 pieces of e-waste: 21 per cent came from general users, while 79 per cent was from dtac’s own network operations and expansion.

    Internally produced e-waste also includes demo units, obsolete models of mobile phones and accessories. Dtac has a specialist team to inspect these units and sort them for either re-use in various activities or for proper disposal if they are no longer in working order. Electronics marked for disposal are put through a proper disposal and recycling process by contracted e-waste recyclers.

    Dtac has a Supply Chain Sustainability team that assesses and inspects recyclers on a list of vendors on an annual basis, to ensure that they maintain environmentally-friendly operations and comply with dtac’s standards.

    The company says it is committed to managing e-waste produced internally, starting with storing collected e-waste in a warehouse where safety and security systems align with the Department of Internal Trade’s Notification on Warehouses. This ensures that surrounding communities will not be adversely affected in the case of an unforeseen incident at the facility.

    For more information on the “Think Hai D” and “Think Ti dtac” programs, please go to:

    28 August 2020
  • KBank claims first step towards future of banking
    MAKE by KBank a hi-tech-based reimagining of financial services KBank has announced the imminent launch of a new mobile-banking service that is claimed to be “the first stepping stone of Kbank’s new century”. Called MAKE by KBank, it aims to fulfill the needs of new generation customers whose definition and needs of banking services are […]

    MAKE by KBank a hi-tech-based reimagining of financial services

    KBank has announced the imminent launch of a new mobile-banking service that is claimed to be “the first stepping stone of Kbank’s new century”.

    Called MAKE by KBank, it aims to fulfill the needs of new generation customers whose definition and needs of banking services are different to those with which banks have long been familiar. KBank heralds its development as “a reimagining of financial services”, based on an entrepreneurial “Zero to One” approach by new-generation executives and developers – a reference to the book of that name by American entrepreneur and investor Peter Thiel.

    According to those executives, creation of the new service began by throwing out “all of the old banking paradigms” and adopting a customer-centric approach involving “deep listening”. Customers’ lifestyles have driven the product development, and under the newly reimagined services, Kbank will no longer develop products and try to push them to customers. Rather, it will work the other way around. 

    MAKE by KBank is now in a three-month trial involving more than 20,000 of the bank’s staff members. It is due to be officially launched in the fourth quarter of this year and is expected to attract about 100,000 users before the end of the year.

    The President of Kasikorn Business Technology Group (KBTG), Ruangroj “Krating” Poonpol, said the new service will be an innovative addition to the bank’s Contactless, Khunthong, Data Wallet, and many other solutions, with a mission of reimagining Kbank for the Banking 5.0 era. 

    KBTG’s main purpose is to support Kbank’s transition into a regional bank based on financial technology (fintech). At the start of this year, it unveiled Kasikorn Vision Information Technology, or KTech China, which has been applying China’s fintech solutions to Southeast Asia. KTech China is now close to launching its first service. 

    “But we won’t stop there, as our foundation lies in deep tech and [Israeli artificial-intelligence specialist] AI Factory. We can create innovations, new AI models, and deep tech for Ambient Intelligence [electronic environments that are sensitive and responsive to the presence of people]. 

    “Banks cannot stay just where we used to be,” Ruangroj said. “It is necessary that we are present everywhere, and at all times. It is time for Cognitive Banking. It is time we knew customers even better than they know themselves. As well, we must deliver open banking. We need to collaborate with partners and connect to other ecosystems.”  

    He said COVID-19 has already shifted the world’s paradigms, changed consumer behavior, and altered the norms of doing business in a big way. Banks must therefore prepare for a “Banking 5.0 Revolution”. In the post-COVID-19 era, all industries will be reimagined. The automotive industry looks set to see Tesla vehicles reach Level 5 – autonomous driving – by 2030. ​Apple, meanwhile, is about to launch Apple Glasses and usher in the Age of Extended Reality. It is predicted that Southeast Asia’s internet economy will be worth US$300 billion by 2025 – nearly the size of Thailand’s gross domestic product. When the internet economy of the region gets that big, financial technology will enjoy a big boost and banks will have to seriously engage in reimagining. 

    Ruangroj said this reimagining was the basis upon which MAKE by KBank was developed. All of the old banking paradigms were forgotten and there followed a customer-centric approach in which it was necessary to deeply understand customers and identify their pain points. Next, the development efforts focused on how to deliver banking products and services that solved customers’ problems and made their lives better. 

    In other words, he said, priority was given to the concepts of “customer at heart” and “empathy”, rather than emphasizing the technology itself. The development then proceeded to create new products and new technologies for new experiences under the banner of MAKE by Kbank.

    “KBTG would not be talking about these things if we didn’t already have the new service in hand. MAKE by Kbank is being tested by more than 20,000 Kbank and KBTG staff members. The trial is because we believe that we should try our own products. If it is satisfactory, we will launch the service to the public,” he said.

    More than being simply a new service, Ruangroj said MAKE by KBank represents the first step in KBank’s reimagining of three aspects of its services, allowing customers to manage their finance “with convenience and fun”.

    The first is experimental banking, with a focus on how to make banking a part of customers’ life experiences. Customers’ lifestyles are leading Kbank’s product development, and rather than developing products and trying to push them on to customers, the process is the other way around. 

    The second is humanized experience. Kbank is focusing on creating financial services that match new-generation lifestyles.

    The third aspect is modernizing KBank’s tech stack, or technology infrastructure. Financial services by Kbank must be enabled by modern technologies that respond well to customers’ needs. 

    Experimental banking

    KBTG’s Advanced Innovation Product Manager, Kongbhop Rungdech, said mobile banking for new-generation people must be fast and fun. MAKE by KBank has taken this as its theme, and after its launch, it will make people forget the old way of banking. It will deliver reimagined services in the areas of payment, interface and saving. 

    Reimagined payment will enable mobile-phone users to transfer money without the need to type in bank-account numbers or get a specific QR code. A “Pop Pay” feature, when activated, will search users’ friends within a 10-meter radius and display their faces. Users can then click on a face to transfer money to that person. After the first click, they can check the real name of the intended recipient and jot down the reason for the transfer. To confirm the transfer, they need to swipe up – the same gesture as they use to close an app on an iPhone.

    Pop Pay is not just compatible with friends, but also with people who are physically right next to the user. However, there is a filter for users to identify just their friends. Pop Pay relies on Bluetooth when searching for those nearby. Money transfers do not rely on Bluetooth signals, but are done according to normal banking standards,” Kongbhop said.

    Reimagined interface is a solution to pain points associated with passbooks, statements, and transaction records. The innovative interface has a “Chat Banking” feature that is as easy-to-use as a chat app. When users want to transfer money, they may be concerned about a financial relationship with a friend. If they want to check transaction records, they can click on a picture of the friend on the screen, and the Chat will pop up and let them see the history. It is also possible to send demands for repayment. 

    Using the reimagined interface, users do not have to open a chat app or check photos in an online album to find transaction records. They can browse around in the same interface and check information from texts and photos, and find the amount of money involved. They can instantly create a slip to send to their friend.

    Moreover, Chat Banking gives users a clearer picture of their spending. The color of slips and the homepage will reflect the type of things on which they have spent money. Green represents travel; yellow is for food; and pink represents shopping.

    Reimagined saving has been developed out of an awareness that individual Thais now have more than one bank account. The development includes “Cloud Pocket”, which enables users to create several pockets in one account. When they want to move money between pockets, they can do so with a fingertip drag and drop feature. 

    Cloud Pocket responds to the financial lifestyle of new-generation customers. It is expected to be MAKE by KBank’s most popular feature. Users may create as many pockets as they wish, based on the purposes for each pocket. Money can be moved easily to and from pockets. If someone is planning a trip or activity with friends, Cloud Pocket can be used to save money for it by all friends putting money in the same pocket. A financial goal can be set for the pocket. There is no longer the need to open a new bank account just for a planned trip or activity. 

    A “humanized” experience

    A Senior Designer at KBTG, Watcharapong Treerattanaphan, said  research to gain insights into the needs and lifestyles of new-generation users, as a basis for the MAKE by KBank development, focused on secondary, vocational and university students. 

    “We have accorded importance to the new generation and stayed close to it,” he said. “We wanted to find out about their lifestyles, their relationships, their attitudes towards money sharing, and the meaning and values they associate with money. 

    “To the new generation,” he revealed, “money can be shared.”  

    As a result, when they have a MAKE account, they can create folders that will function like subaccounts or wallets. Overall, these folders will be their “financial cloud”, since in the Thai language, cloud is pronounced ‘MAKE’. 

    “Cloud is flexible and shape-shifting. It keeps changing and represents freedom. We want everyone to have the freedom of managing their finances in their own style,” Watcharapong said.

    Since real clouds in the sky change color according to the time of day, users of MAKE will see the background color of their homepage and transaction page change in response to the type of transactions they make. The color changes will let users know what they are spending more money on. 

    Watcharapong said the MAKE logo features a bird and clouds in the sky. They represent dynamics, as financial transactions will no longer be just about transferring money, withdrawing cash, and making payments. 

    “We have reimagined changing consumer behavior and we have striven to fulfill consumers’ changing needs. MAKE will let users make friends, make communities, make their own banking procedures, make payments, make life easier, and many other things. And it is not the end yet,” he said. 

    Modernizing the tech stack

    An Advanced Innovation Engineer at KBTG, Suchet Chaisiricharoenkun, said MAKE by KBank relies on reimagined technologies in a way that is going to integrate new banking services into people’s lives. Two key points were Make Fast, for which it was necessary to deploy new technologies for mobile banking, and Make Scale, for which the systems used had to be flexible and scalable, in response to customers’ needs.

    Make Fast was seen as an answer to customers’ fast-changing lifestyles. In a bid to ensure that MAKE by KBank would constantly keep such a pace, Flutter UI SDK was chosen because it was compatible with both iOS and Android. This double compatibility meant that the MAKE by KBank team needed to write only one set of codes. This big benefit cut development time by half. Better still, the result was as good as an app developed on a native basis.

    “Mobile banking usage has been growing by more than 70 per cent a year, and at the end of each month, there are usually many financial transactions for people to handle,” Suchet said. “To accommodate growing demand, MAKE by KBank was focused on scalability from Day One. We embraced the Golang programming language. It may be common, but it is very efficient. Thanks to Golang, the backend service of MAKE by KBank is scalable. It can grow according to consumers’ demands.” 

    By their very nature, mobile-banking systems are sophisticated. Yet, MAKE by KBank makes it great, flexible and scalable, and this has been achieved by designing backend services as microservices. 

    Suchet said it was going to be difficult to develop a big, sophisticated, complete system because many problems would arise along the way. It was decided that overall development would be much easier if services such as money-transfer, withdrawal, and notification were prepared as microservices. Together, these microservices can now form a great complete system.

    Microservice-based development also gave greater freedom for service design, since the steps involved were less complicated. Each type of service can now be scaled up with greater ease. For example, when there is greater demand for money-transfer services than there is for withdrawal services, they can be scaled up. 

    “The microservices approach allowed us to develop backend services to address difficult-to-handle pain points in the most efficient manner, and to properly accommodate demand for each function,” Suchet said.

    MAKE by KBank’s backend services use the Google Cloud Platform – one of the world’s most reliable and efficient infrastructures – to guarantee maximum efficiency. As a result, MAKE by KBank, is truly scalable. Demand for some services peak only on some days of each month and the platform works best in responding to such demand. Moreover, the Google Cloud Platform is highly stable and delivers great cost efficiency. 

    Suchet pointed out that World-class firms like Google and Facebook update their back-office system dozens of times each day. If a “bug” occurs, the ramifications can be huge, because “bugs” are not easy to detect and manage. But despite frequent updates, these firms have everything under control because of a technique called canary deployment. Simply put, deployments for backend services are automatic. Testing is done in every aspect, with comparisons made between old and new versions. When the test proves satisfactory, updates roll out to each group of users 10 per cent at a time, until all users are covered. 

    MAKE by KBank has adopted this approach for updates of its backend services in order to minimize the risks of adverse impacts from an update.

    “We didn’t intend to develop MAKE by KBank as just another mobile-banking app. Today, tech solutions must come with a caring understanding of the new generation. We hope our tech-enabled services will best respond to the lifestyles of customers. Technologies need to come hand in hand with empathy. MAKE wants to be a part of people’s spending and lifestyles,” Suchet said.

    Finally, KBTG President Ruangroj disclosed that MAKE by KBank shares a back-office synergy. With a strong emphasis on the needs of customers, some features of MAKE can also be used with KBank’s existing solutions K PLUS and Khunthong.

    A MAKE account will give users several wallets with a feature that allows users to copy and paste account numbers. Although the app will presently rely on K PLUS for identity verification, it will be able to function independently in the future. Users will be able to create new bank accounts on MAKE. 

    Serving like a treasurer, Khunthong handles lightweight financial transactions with an emphasis on speed and fun. Meanwhile, the LINE BK app is the first banking app to be integrated in a chat application platform. Users will feel like KBank has opened a new branch on LINE. For its part, MAKE by KBank is a separate mobile-banking app that targets new-generation users and is not integrated into a chat app platform.

    The key infrastructure of MAKE is on cloud. K PLUS was created to offer solutions to everyone. Boasting a variety of features, it has now prepared a hybrid multi-cloud and has begun to develop infra-as-code – the process of managing and provisioning computer data centers through machine-readable definition files, rather than by physical hardware configuration or interactive configuration tools. It can deploy codes rapidly, so anything of an experimental nature on MAKE will also be available on K PLUS. From now on, K PLUS will be learning new things from China and various other countries, with a learning-cycle content 10 times bigger than before. 

    “What I would like to emphasize is that the future of the world and the financial sector is by no means in the hands of my generation,” Ruangroj said. “We can only rebuild the foundation for the new generation. The future of banking is in the hands of millennials and Gen Z. If you see members of my team – the product managers, designers, and tech leaders – you will see the face of the future.” 

    11 August 2020
  • dtac is Set to Make “High-Speed Internet Available to Everyone”​
    Invest Further in Network Infrastructure in Latter Half of 2020 in High Density Usage Areas dtac has announced its plan to invest further in network expansions during the latter half of 2020 so as to increase network efficiency in response to changing consumer behaviors, consumers’ migrations, and new ways of working. The plan will cover […]

    Invest Further in Network Infrastructure in Latter Half of 2020 in High Density Usage Areas

    dtac has announced its plan to invest further in network expansions during the latter half of 2020 so as to increase network efficiency in response to changing consumer behaviors, consumers’ migrations, and new ways of working. The plan will cover 2300 MHz on TOT waves, Massive MIMO expansions in areas with high usage density, 700 MHz for use cases in the industrial sector, and 700 MHz installations to boost signal coverage in key regions.

    Sharad Mehrotra, chief executive officer of Total Access Communication Public Company Limited (dtac), says consumer behaviors have clearly changed in four aspects during the latter half of this year. He points out that purchasing power has reduced, digital-channel usage has increased, workers have migrated to their home provinces, and data usage has risen significantly. 

    Just as COVID-19 outbreak has changed Thai consumers’ behaviors, data usage has increased by over 44 per cent a year between January and June.

    “In the face of consumer-behavior and network changes, data usage in provinces now grow at the faster rate than Bangkok’s. dtac, therefore, is now urgently upgrading signal transmission efficiency. The goal is to make it three times better in areas with high usage density,” Mehrotra says. 

    Work-from-home mode has spurred the use of several apps such as Zoom and MS Teams, while online services related to online classes, as well as online shopping have also enjoyed a big boost in recent months. With such trend, data usage on dtac network has soared very high. 

    Forecasts suggest that Thailand’s gross domestic products (GDP) will shrunk by eight per cent and the number of foreign tourists will drop by 80 per cent this year from 2019. A World Bank report predicts that more than 8.3 million Thais will be at risk of losing jobs or income. Amid uncertainties, many migrants have decided to leave unemployment in Bangkok for their home provinces. As a result, data-usage growth in provinces has been five times higher than that in the capital. Data usage in provinces has continued to grow high even after the government started easing lockdowns. 

    “At the time consumers need connectivity and digital services as major tools for their living, dtac is speeding up its Massive MIMO and 4G-TDD installations to accommodate growing demand”, Mehrotra says.

    dtac aims to increase the number of 4G-TDD base stations by more than 20,000 before the end of 2020 for the purpose of expanding 2300 MHz on TOT waves in support of its delivery of high-speed internet services. 

    “More than 76 per cent of dtac customers’ mobile phones and communications devices are compatible with 4G-TDD. This fact underlines dtac’s status as the leading service provider on 4G-TDD system, which works fine with most smartphones,” Mehrotra says. 

    Massive MIMO expansions are also going ahead urgently in areas with high usage density, as dtac seeks to triple service efficiency and upgrade customer experiences in the use of its high-speed internet on either mobile phone or dtac@home. 

    Moreover, dtac is now setting up 5G base stations for 26 GHz band in target areas. It has also been making preparations for 700 MHz band, as it waits for a license from the Office of the National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission (NBTC) based on use cases. The 700 MHz services will be made available to industrial operators in the Eastern Economic Corridor (EEC) in the third quarter of this year, according to the plan. Usage will be for smart surveillance cameras and Fixed Wireless Access (FWA), etc. 

    dtac is ready to implement 700 MHz services for all key regions, for as long as the license issued by the NBTC allows it to do so.

    “Our main goals are to develop network efficiency for all customers, and to present offers or services that will ease our customers’ financial burdens,” Mehrotra says.

    Creating Seamless Digital Ecosystem

    dtac focuses on delivering digital experiences that links the online and the offline worlds together. As dtac develops new services for digital experiences at affordable prices, it has joined hands with partners from various industries. The partnerships bring useful services to dtac app for customers to enjoy at a special price during difficult times. Thanks to dtac’s collaborations with partners, there are special deals for health insurances, discount coupons for use at pharmacies, add-on services that come with games and fun activities, shopping choices, delivery services, and various free data-usage options. During strict lockdowns, dtac had offered data packages at very special prices. Customers may choose to subscribe at daily, weekly or monthly rates in response to their usage needs and budget.

    “Redemptions of dtac rewards related to online shopping and online orders for food deliveries jumped by five times during strict lockdowns. As physical outlets shut down temporarily, more consumers turned to the online world,” Mehrotra says. 

    New Way of Working

    The CEO of dtac says his firm has changed its way of working in response to sudden changes caused by COVID-19. The new approach places a strong emphasis on flexibility and ability to respond to changing lifestyles. 

    At dtac, ‘tight-loose-tight’ has become a new norm. Work schedules become flexible. More automation systems are integrated to increase efficiency and speed up the delivery of products/services to customers. 

    Mehrotra believes such approach will raise dtac’s potential and competitiveness in a significant way, with less workload for humans and new corporate culture in the making. 

    At present, all dtac offices have allowed over 95 per cent of their staff to work on flexible schedules. They take turns coming to offices. Working at office is done mostly when necessary only. 

    “At dtac, tight-loose-tight means we set clear expectations, we give our staff flexibility in achieving goals, and we clearly identify their job responsibilities. We believe that staff are looking for greater flexibility in their work. They want freedom in making decisions. When we grant that, staff’s satisfaction and efficiency will rise,” Mehrotra says. 

    dtac has planned to raise efficiency further by integrating more automation into IT technologies, network operations, and business functions. 

    It also invites its staff to enter ‘BOTATHON’ contest. Winning team will get an opportunity to build a “robot assistant” for the mission of reducing worktime, preventing human errors, and decreasing time needed to deliver products/services to consumers. 

    “As we seek to deliver connectivity services at affordable prices amid challenging economic situation, we must recognize that efficiency is still at the heart of our business development and that we need to demonstrate social responsibility as a network provider. Our key goals in the latter half of 2020 are to efficiently adjust our way of working and to deliver services that respond better to customers’ needs,” Mehrotra says. 

    10 August 2020