Thailand moves toward digital ID system with face recognition for financial inclusivity

Thailand’s cabinet has given its approval in principle to a draft bill proposing an e-KYC digital ID system based on facial recognition to facilitate online financial transactions and cybersecurity, the Bangkok Post reports. Banks hope that the bill will allow them to rapidly grow their customer base through the internet and mobile phones.

The draft bill would require the establishment of a 12-person committee to oversee the digital ID platform, with the Office of the Electronic Transactions Commission acting as its secretariat office, and stipulate criteria, means, and conditions for use of the platform by business and data protection by consumers, according to the government. The committee will also impose fees and handling charges, while companies will be required to draft confidentiality standards and safety information before being issued an operating license.

“Currently, several transactions or contracts require personal identification or authentication, and the identification process needs the users to show their identity to the service providers and submit many documents,” says government spokesperson Sansern Kaewkamnerd. “The new law, once enacted, will facilitate and expedite the processes of such identification, and if digital ID can be authenticated it will benefit both service users and service providers.”

Facial recognition will be used to verify the identity of users opening new deposit accounts.

Operators suffering breaches which cause harm to users could be fined 300,000 bhat (roughly US$9,167), and an additional 10,000 bhat ($300) each day the problem continues.

Several large banks, such as Bangkok Bank (BBL), participated in e-KYC trials conducted in the Bank of Thailand’s regulatory sandbox, according to the report. BBL Executive Vice President Prassanee Ouiyamaphan said the bank expects tens of thousands of new accounts to be opened within six months of the new service’s availability.

A Finance Ministry spokesperson said the system will likely come into force next year.

The Thai government announced the roll-out of a national e-payment system in 2016 to deal with increasing fraud in the country’s burgeoning digital banking sector.

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